Pitt 59. UNC-Wilmington 51

Pitt SophomoreWilliam Jeffress at the rim in the win over UNC-Wilmington ( Photo Credit : Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

              Pitt Beats UNC-Wilmington 59-51 for their 1st Win

After 2 losses to start the season, the Pitt Panthers basketball team wanted to do whatever it took to end a losing streak and earn their first victory. To accomplish that, it meant beating the UNC- Wilmington Seahawks, a team that the Panthers had never played until now. And in front of the Petersen Events Center crowd, the Panthers mission was accomplished in a 59-51 win.

Pitt Head Coach Jeff Capel During his Panthers win over UNCW ( Photo Credit Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

“First and foremost, it’s great to get a win. Thought we did some really good things defensively in the first half, we played well offensively” said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel. “Our team is interesting, right now we’re gonna have to win ugly and that’s what we did today. Hopefully, we can start getting back as a whole.”

The Panthers went ‘wire-to wire,’ taking a 2-0 lead and never trailing the entire game, even when the Seahawks caught fire and closed their deficit to 49-47 midway through the 2nd half, but Pitt would fight to maintain their lead en route to victory.

Pitt Junior Forward Chris Payton Going to the Hoop in the Panthers 59-51 win over UNC-Wilmington ( Photo Credit Vince Butts -UMT Sports )

“I thought our defense was tremendous. I thought our three-point defense was good and it just feels good for this group for what we’ve been through.” Said Capel “The first week to two weeks of the season, to be able to get a win and we were able to do it with some game pressure after we built up a big lead.”

G Femi Okadule led the Panthers with 15 points and C/F John Hugley added 13 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds to finish with another Double-Double. Forwards Dan Oladapo (9 points) and William Jeffress (9 rebounds) would contribute as well.

“Yeah, that’s something coming through the season. I thought that we would be able to rely on the strength of the back court, and then John [Hugley] and the rest of our guys.” Said Capel. “They’re good, but they’re guys that play off other guys. And that’s what we haven’t had. We really just had Femi [Odukale] and John. As far as guys that can create, John’s creation comes at times you have to double and so guys can get open there, Femi can get in the paint and force help and so again, having JB [Burton] is another guy that can do that. Hopefully, that opens things up a little bit more force.”

Pitt Senior Guard Jamarius Burton Shooting for two Against UNCW ( Photo Credit -Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

Unlike the losses to The Citadel and West Virginia, the Panthers started strong and was aggressive on both sides of the court. They were able to hold the Seahawks to only 10 points the first 8 minutes of the game. Pitt jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead behind 51.9 percent (14- of-27) from the field, posted a 47-33 rebounding advantage … outrebounded the opposition for the third consecutive game … the Panthers posted a 23-10 rebounding edge in the opening half of play.

Pitt controlled the interior with a 34-20 edge in points in the paint … the Panthers have scored 34 points in the paint in all three games this season and Held UNCW to an opponent season-low 28.8 percent (17-of-59) shooting from the field. The Panthers improved to 3-0 under Jeff Capel

when holding the opposition to under 30 percent shooting from the field. Capel-led teams are 18- 0 all-time when accomplishing that feat.

The Panthers will now prepare to face Towson First at the Petersen Events Center with expectations to build off this win. “We still have to really work on valuing the basketball when things get a little bit chaotic. We have to be able to have poise and be strong and make plays. But really proud of how we fought.” Said Capel. “How hard we played, and how we defended, and the fact that we won.”

Ray Porter Jr July 2021

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