KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Stasha Carey scored 16 points and had 13 rebounds Saturday as Pittsburgh defeated Chattanooga 51-40 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, snapping the Mocs’ 25-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh (20-11), the No. 10 seed in the Spokane Region, will play Monday against the winner of Saturday’s first-round game between No. 2 seed Tennessee and No. 15 seed Boise State.
Chattanooga, which never led, has eight straight NCAA Tournament losses since beating Rutgers in a 2004 first-round game.
The seventh-seeded Mocs (29-4) shot a season-low 26.2 percent to fall for the first time since a 57-52 loss at Arkansas State on Dec. 1.
The victory continued a surprising season for Pittsburgh, which was picked to finish last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jasmine Joyner had 10 points and nine rebounds for Chattanooga before fouling out. Brianna Kiesel had 13 points for Pittsburgh.
This season had a familiar finish for Chattanooga.
Last year, the Mocs also had won 25 straight games before losing to Syracuse in the opening round. Chattanooga responded by upgrading its schedule to get more prepared for the postseason.
After beating Tennessee and Stanford when both were ranked in the top 10, the Mocs believed they’d be ready for anything they encountered in the tournament.
But they quickly fell behind 11-2 against Pittsburgh and struggled to establish any kind of offense all day. They rallied to tie the game on a few occasions, but Pittsburgh responded each time.
Chattanooga isn’t the first team to struggle to score against Pittsburgh, which relied on its defense to end a string of four straight losing seasons. Pittsburgh headed into the NCAA Tournament ranked second in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (.362).
The Mocs tied the score for the final time on two Alicia Payne free throws with 12:05 left, but they went cold the rest of the game as Pittsburgh reeled off nine straight points to pull ahead for good. Chattanooga went nearly seven minutes without a basket during one stretch in the second half.
Pittsburgh: Kiesel is the first player in Pittsburgh history to have 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists.
Chattanooga: The Mocs’ No. 7 seed was their best in school history. Their previous best was a No. 10 seed in 2004. … Chelsey Shumpert entered the tournament with 11.9 points per game to rank second on the team, but she went scoreless Saturday while shooting 0 of 6 overall and 0 of 4 from 3-point range.
Pittsburgh plays either No. 2 seed Tennessee or No. 15 seed Boise State on Monday at Knoxville.
Chattanooga will head into next season needing to replace only two seniors from this season’s normal playing rotation – Ka’Vonne Towns and Destiny Bramblett.