By now the Pitt Panthers should know that non-conference teams aren’t pushovers. And just in case they needed one more reminder, they got one from Yale University as they entered Petersen Events Center with a reputation of sharp shooting and a good defense. But although they put up a fight, it was the Panthers who proved themselves better as they got past the Ivy League School 75-70 to improve their record to 4-1.
Senior F Mike Young, fresh off his career-high 30-point game vs. Marquette was once again the star as he led Pitt with 24 points and 10 rebounds. At one point, Young put the Panthers on his back as they Yale put up a fight against Pitt. He got help from his partner-in-crime F Jamel Artis, who added 20 points and led with 4 assists. G Cameron Johnson also caught fire as he added 15 points on 4 three-pointers. But the most impressive stat was in the turnover department in which the Panthers committed only 5.
Even though Pitt pulled off the victory, they knew it took a fight to keep Yale from pulling off a huge upset.
“If we can find that happy balance between defending the paint and defending the 3-point line, then we might have something.”-Pitt HC Kevin Stallings said. “It’s something we can learn from. We’d much rather learn from a win than a defeat.”
On Pitt’s season-low 5 turnovers “”I’ll take that every night, “We’ll take eight blocks every night too.”
Pitt opened the scoring as Young’s jumper made it 2-0. Then Yale took a 3-2 lead when G Anthony Dallier hit a 3-pointer to give them a 3-2 lead. Pitt would regain the lead with Jamel Artis would score on the layup, but then back came Yale as they took a 5-4 lead. Young would give Pitt a 6-5 lead. Pitt eventually took a 12-8 lead before Yale caught lightning and stormed to a 20-13 lead, their largest of the game.
The Panthers looked bewildered and Stalling must’ve known it as he called a timeout. After play resumed, Pitt caught some of that lightning and Young and Jeter’s baskets got the Panthers to a 21-20 lead. After Yale took a brief 22-21 lead, the lead exchanged a few times before Pitt took a 26-25 lead and never trailed the rest of the game.
With over a minute left in the first half, Young and Artis added to Pitt’s lead and although Yale G Alex Copeland got his team to within 2 of the Panthers, the first half ended with Pitt leading 32-30. In the second half, Yale F Sam Downey tied the score at 32, before Artis and Johnson would put the Panthers back on top for good. The Panthers largest lead would be 44-37 and would extend it when Jr G Jonathan Milligan hit a 3-pointer. Young and F Ryan Luther would extend Pitt’s lead to 55-44 with over 8 minutes left to play.
But Yale refused to go away as they closed Pitt’s lead to 60-55, then Johnson opened things up for the Panthers when he hit 2 three-pointers to extend their lead to 63-55. But Johnson wasn’t done as he added another 3-pointer giving Pitt a commanding 66-57 lead. Then Young would resume his scoring as his 2 free throws would extend Pitt’s lead to 68-59 with over 3 minutes left.
Copeland would close Pitt’s lead to 68-62 with a 3-pointer, but Luther would extend the Panthers lead to 70-62 with 2 free throws. With 49 seconds left, Reynolds’ 3-pointer got Yale to within 3, but Artis would hit 2 free throws to eventually seal give Pitt a 73-68 lead. He and Johnson would then hit key baskets to seal Pitt’s 75-70 victory.
Downey led Yale with 17 points, Miye Oni led with 11 rebounds and Reynolds led with 6 assists as they would fall to 3-2 on the season.
Ray’s Take: It was predicted that the Panthers would win a close game vs. Yale, and that prediction came true as the Ivy League School refused to quit, but the Panthers refused to quit as well, although they seemed a bit lazy early in the first half before they woke up. Maybe it took them being down by 7, maybe it took Stalling lighting a fire under their rear-ends, whatever the reason, the Panthers played better ball after that. Congrats to Mike Young on winning the ACC Player of the Week award. It’s a shame that this is probably going to be his best season as he’s easily averaging over 20 points a game right now. He looks comfortable and more importantly, he looks like a leader. I hope he keeps it going. Artis is a good supporting cast member who will also be missed after this season.
Next Up: The Panthers will host Morehead St. Friday evening at the Petersen Events Center.
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