McGowens 33 leads Pitt past Louisville 89-86(OT)
The Pitt Panthers hustled, fought and clawed for their first Atlantic Coast Conference win in 2 years (672 days) and finally snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in overtime as they beat the Louisville Cardinals 89-86.
And it certainly didn’t come easy as they had to overcome a dreadful night at the foul line (16-33 48.5%) as well as several 10-point deficits, and not to mention coming back from a 3-point deficit to open overtime. Despite if all, the Panthers played like they wanted this win and as a result have improved to 11-4 and 1-1 in the Conference.
It was also their first win vs. Louisville since 2010, when the Panthers were still one of the country’s top teams. The Panthers needed this win as it’s a signature one in first-year head coach Jeff Capel’s tenure. His goal was to resurrect a once-proud program and a win like this continues to point them in the right direction.
“I’m really proud of my team & I’m really happy for them…some big-time performances from everyone who stepped on the court tonight.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel “It’s a great lesson for our guys that in order to win, you have to invest something.” It was also Capel’s first ACC win after falling 86-60 to #12 North Carolina.
Pitt’s performance ignited a sound from the Petersen Events Center crowd that hadn’t been heard in years, a victorious one. “Our crowd was amazing again. … Our players, I’m happy for them.”- Said Capel.
But the story of the night was the incredible performance by freshman G Trey McGowens who led all scorers with 33 points, which is a freshman record. McGowens broke the previous record of 29 by Clyde Vaughn in 1980. The shooting guard took matters into his own hands in the first half as he burned the Cardinals with 20 points. He also had 4 three-pointers and led Pitt with 6 rebounds.
His supporting cast was fellow freshman Xavier Johnson who shook off a slow start en route to a 21-point, 10 assist night. He’s looking more and more like the Pitt point guards of old, which will continue to greatly benefit this team.
“With those two guys, we think we have a chance.”-Capel said of Johnson and McGowens
“We’re going to prepare the same way.” Said Johnson “it’s just one win. We got to prepare the same way.”
The other player in double-figures was C Terrell Brown who was more aggressive in the paint as he scored 11 points, 5 rebounds and a game-high 5 blocks before fouling out last in the second half. Senior Jared Wilson Frame added 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
The Panthers started well and took a 38-28 lead into the break before extending that advantage to as many as 16 points in the second half. But the Cardinals, who entered with a 12-game winning streak against Pitt and owned a 7-1 record at the Petersen Events Center, stormed back to tie the game in the final seconds.
Louisville struck first in the overtime session with a three-pointer by Ryan McMahon, but Johnson answered beyond the arc and McGowens finished an athletic transition dunk to put the Panthers ahead for good.
G Christian Cunningham lead Louisville with 23 points. F Dwayne Sutton led all players with 11 rebounds. They were 7-28 from 3-point range while the Panthers were 9-20.
The Panthers must now prepare to face several ranked teams beginning with a trip to #15 NC State on Saturday. “Tonight, was huge for us. I’d be lying if I tried to play it down. It was huge for us. It was huge for this program at this moment.” Said Capel. “We’re not going to be the most talented team-we accept that, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be the better team.”
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