Duke 79 Pitt 67

Pitt Panther (Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

                       Pitt Fights Hard but Falls to #9 Duke

[Durham,N.C.] The Pitt Panthers tried and put up a good fight against the nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils, but a potential upset wouldn’t happen this night as they lose their 2nd straight 79-67 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. had 26 points and 13 rebounds and continued to prove why he one of the nation’s top college players. Tre Jones scored 14 points and added eight assists with no turnovers, and Jordan Goldwire contributed 13 points, which included 3 three-pointers.

“Congrats to Duke, they’re a great team.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel “They really killed us inside especially Vernon Carey– very difficult cover, very efficient, and they do a great job of getting him the basketball. I’m proud of my team, I thought we fought, and we put ourselves in a position where we had a chance late. I thought we were able to handle their pressure.”


But as mentioned before, Pitt fought Duke tooth and nail and did not let the Blue Devils think that they were going to just roll over them. Early in the first half, the Panthers rebounded from a 9-2 deficit to take a 12-9 lead, but Carey Goldwire and the Blue Devils stormed back and overtook the Panthers and never trailed the rest of the game.

But in the second half, back came the Panthers, led by Au’Dese Toney who scored a career-high 27 points and was 3-4 from three-point range and he helped get the Panthers to withing 3 points late in the game, but it wasn’t enough as 9th ranked Duke (17-2, 7-2 ACC) eventually sealed the win.

Unfortunately, Toney didn’t get much scoring help as Justin Champangie only managed to add 13 points and leading scorers Xavier Johnson (9) and Trey Mcgowens (2) weren’t able to put the ball in the basket and sharpshooter Ryan Murphy finished the game with 0 points.

“I thought we were able to get downhill and get to the basket and get some shots.” Said Capel. “Au’Diese Toney had a great game, it’s the best game he’s played here, so I’m proud of that, but it’s not good enough and I want our program to get to the point where we’re not satisfied with being close.”

Pitt Head Basketball Coach Jeff Capel ( Photo Credit: Vince Butts UMT-Sports)

The Panthers are now 13-8 (4-6 ACC) and have now lost 2 straight, but the program continues to show great improvement and fight after hiring Duke alum and former assistant Capel 2 years ago.

“It was great being back, to be honest with you.” Said Capel “We came in here last night and shot a little bit and it was a little weird walking in here, a completely different entrance, being dropped off at a different place, and just being in here not with Duke. But, once competition starts, man it’s competition. It was great seeing so many familiar faces, so many people that I care about and that care about me. That was really cool.”

The Panthers honored former NBA star Kobe Bryant by warming up in T-shirts with purple and gold numerals 8 on the front and 24 on the back, which are the numbers Bryant wore with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.

“Well, I think we’ve been like everyone, shocked. It’s been emotional, especially for our guys, because he was a hero, an idol to those guys as a player, with what he meant to the game of basketball. When you’re in the conversation of one of the greatest ever, nothing else really must be said, basketball wise.”Said Capel.

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