Panthers Use Stifling Defense To Post 62-48 Win Over Purdue Fort Wayne

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PITTSBURGH – Pitt leaned on an outstanding defensive effort to offset an uncharacteristic cold-shooting night to cruise to a 62-48 win over Purdue Fort Wayne Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center. Guillermo Diaz Graham delivered a strong performance with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three blocks, while Zack Austin and Carlton Carrington each added 12 points for the Panthers.

Pitt shot under 40 percent from the field for just the second time this season, including a 2-of-20 (.100) effort from three-point range, but was able to offset the offensive woes by clamping down on a PFW offense that entered the night averaging over 85 points per game. The Mastodons shot just 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from the field, including 19.2 percent (5-of-26) from three-point range.

Pitt delivered an impressive defensive performance in the opening 10 minutes of play, jumping out to a 15-6 lead while allowing just three made field goals. Guillermo Diaz Graham‘s two-handed dunk in transition off a feed from Ishmael Leggett pushed the Panthers to a 23-8 lead with 6:13 remaining in the half.

Purdue Fort Wayne cut the deficit back to nine points on a Maximus Nelson three with 4:24, but the Panthers closed with a 7-2 run to enter the halftime break with a 31-17 lead. Austin scored all seven points in the run, beginning with an up and under reverse layup and ending with a three-point field goal that snapped a game-opining string of 11 consecutive missed threes.

Guillermo Diaz Graham filled out the box score in the opening half with nine points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks, while Austin came off the bench for seven points and two boards. The Panthers shot just 33.3 percent (12-of-36) but attacked the glass for 14 offensive rebounds and scored 28 of its 31 first half points in the paint (22) and at the foul line (6).

Federiko Federiko gave the Panthers their first 20-point lead of the night with a pair of free throws, but the Mastodons hit a pair of threes during an 8-0 run to trim the deficit to 45-32 with 11:40 remaining in the contest.

Pitt countered with an 15-4 run that included a Carrington one-hand slam, three-point plays by Blake Hinson and Zack Austin, an Ishmael Leggett corner three, and a two-handed putback dunk by Austin to give the Panthers a 60-36 edge with 5:12 remaining. Pitt maintained the comfortable margin as Purdue Fort Wayne used a 7-0 run in the final 1:39 to close the final gap to 62-48.

STINGY D DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Pitt held the Mastodons 38.8 points below their season average entering the contest. The 48 points allowed was an opponent season-low against the Panthers.

BIG ON THE BOARDS

Pitt grabbed 50 or more rebounds in a game for the fourth time this season and ended the night with a 54-33 edge on the glass. The Panthers’ 18 offensive rebounds (14 in the opening half) is the second most in a game this season.

WRAPPING NON-CON PLAY

Pitt concluded the regular season non-conference schedule with a 9-2 mark, including a 7-1 ledger at the Petersen Events Center.

UP NEXT

Pitt returns to action with an ACC road game at Syracuse Saturday, Dec. 30 (12 p.m. – The CW). The Panthers have won three consecutive matchups with the Orange and five of the past six meetings overall.

Source: Matt Plizga/Pitt Athletics

Image: Vince Butts/UMT