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(Pittsburgh, Pa) The Streak is over. Losing streak that is. In a season in which the Pitt Panthers had good, bad and even ugly moments, they finished the regular season on top as they beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 53-50 in front of a near-packed house at the Petersen Events Center. This was a victory that Pitt needed for 2 reasons: To end their 13-game losing streak, and to honor Seniors Jared Wilson-Frame, Sidy N’Dir and Joe Mascaro, who were honored before the game.
“First and foremost, I’m really happy for our seniors to be able to win their final home game. It meant a lot to this program.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel.
Trey McGowens scored 16 points in a battle to stay out of last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Pitt (13-18, 3-15 ACC) sent its three seniors off with a Senior Day win, while the Fighting Irish (13-18, 3-15) finished their regular-season on a seven-game losing streak.
“Joey Mascaro has been here the longest and to me, he is the epitome of the city. He’s tough, he’s gritty, he’s a hard-worker, and he’s very passionate about the city and the university. Sidy [N’Dir] is a guy that wanted an opportunity to play at the highest level. He had been a good player at New Mexico State, won a lot there, but wanted an opportunity to play the highest level. It was good to see him finally make some shots. It’s been a few weeks since he’s made a three, so it was good to see him do that. Jared is a guy that believed right away when I got the job and when there was a lot of uncertainty in the program, he was certain in his beliefs in us, the future, and the direction.”
The Panthers trailed by 12 in the first half, but a 10-0 run, including a thunderous dunk by McGowens over Notre Dame’s John Mooney, put Pitt back into position to win. McGowens’ 16 points was the most for him since he scored 30 against Florida State on Jan. 14. Pitt is 7-1 in the eight games McGowens scored more than 15 points. Wilson-Frame scored 12 points, all from 3- point range, where he was 4 for 10.
“I just feel like we finally completed a mission.” Said Wilson-Frame. “We always talk about that at the beginning of the game. That we must finish games, end games, win games, even have the chance to come back in games we have often dropped the ball in those moments because of a collective. It’s not an individual thing and today we collectively triumphed and overcame that thing that’s been bugging us for a little while. It felt good to finally get the job done.”
“I’m happy for us to be able to put a period on this regular season and to finish it off at home with a win.” Said Capel “It wasn’t pretty, but it was beautiful for us in the end. I think we did some good things defensively. Obviously, both teams struggled to score all season long, so it wasn’t the prettiest of games.”
Nate Laszewski led the offensive charge for the Irish. He scored a career-high 23 points and was 6 of 9 from 3-point range. Notre Dame’s leading scorer, John Mooney, was held to four points on 1 of 11 shooting, his lowest point total in ACC play this season.
“I thought our attention to detail, specifically on John Mooney was really good.” Said Capel. “Some of it was that he just missed shots, but some of it was our defense.”
The Panthers snapped a 13-game losing streak, their second-longest losing streak in program history, which dates to 1905. The longest losing streak came a year ago, when Pitt lost 19 straight to close the 2017-18 season.
“It was good to see us be able to win a close game.” Said Capel. “We’ve lost a lot of them except for the two Clemson games, the Duke game, the North Carolina game and the Virginia game. Every other game we’ve played, at the under-eight timeouts, it’s been a two-possession game. It was good to see us be able to finish in the face of adversity. I am proud of our team and we look forward to going to the ACC Tournament.”
With the win, Pitt secured the No. 14 seed in the ACC tournament, which starts Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers will play the No. 11 seed Tuesday at 7 p.m. Notre Dame, the No. 15 seed, will play the No. 10 seed Tuesday at 2 p.m.
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