Pitt battled back from a 20-point second half deficit and cut the game to a two-possession contest in the closing minutes before falling to Notre Dame, 88-81, Wednesday evening at Purcell Pavilion. In Mike Brey’s final home game on the sidelines for the Fighting Irish the hosts made 10 threes and took advantage of an uncharacteristic shooting night from the Panthers.
Nelly Cummings scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and Nike Sibande came off the bench to add 19 points, four rebounds and four steals to help lead the Pitt charge. Blake Hinson recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Jamarius Burton delivered 19 points and eight boards.
After a closely contested opening 15 minutes, Notre Dame closed the opening half on a 14-2 run to grab a 42-28 lead at the break. The Panthers missed their final seven shots of the half as well as the front end of a pair of one-and-ones. Pitt shot just 3-of-15 (.250) from three-point range and 1-of-5 (.200) from the foul line in the opening 20 minutes, while Notre Dame went 7-of-15 (.467) from beyond the arc and 7-of-8 (.875) from the foul line.
Hinson tallied nine points and seven rebounds in the half. Marcus Hammond and Cormac Ryan combined for 25 points and five threes to pace the Notre Dame attack in the opening 20 minutes.
Pitt outscored the Irish, 53-48, in the second half but were unable to take advantage at the free throw line with 12 misses from the charity stripe. In contest, Notre Dame went 19-of-23 (.826) from the line in a disjointed game plagued by fouls.
The Panthers were called for two technical fouls in the contest, including one in the opening half following a Hinson three-pointer that gave the team a 7-5 advantage just three minutes into the contest.
Notre Dame went 26-of-31 (.839) from the foul line for the night. Ryan and Hammonds each finished with 20 points with Nate Laszewski (14), Trey Wertz (14), and Goodwin (12) also scoring in double figures.
FREE THROW WOES
Pitt went just 20-of-36 from the free throw line despite entering the night shooting a program best 77.1 percent from the charity stripe. The Panthers were 5-of-15 from the line at one point, including a pair of front end of one and one misses.
80-POINT STREAK SNAPPED
The Panthers had a string of 18 consecutive games won when scoring 80 or more points. Pitt is now 23-2 under Jeff Capel when scoring 80 or more points in a game.
Pitt travels Miami to face the Hurricanes Saturday, March 4 (6 p.m. – ACC Network). The Panthers enter Saturday’s contest tied atop the ACC standings with Miami and Virginia at 14-5 in league play.
Source: Matt Plizga/Pitt Athletics
Image: Vince Butts/Urban Media Today