Pitt Dispatches SC State 86-50; improves to 8-3

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Pitt Head Coach Jeff Capel. Credit: Vince Butts/UMT

By Ray Porter Jr.

PITTSBURGH, PA–F Blake Hinson scored 19 points with three 3-pointers as the Pitt Panthers defeated the South Carolina State Bulldogs 85-50 at the Petersen Events Center. G Ishmael Leggett added 14 points in his first start, and F Zack Austin scored as the Panthers (8-3) added another non-conference win.

“First and foremost, I am proud of our team to get the win,” said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel. “I thought it took us about 16 minutes to get into the rhythm of the game. To get the [final] exams out and not having competition for a week, I thought we defended well throughout. But in the first half, especially the first 16 minutes, we were not as good offensively. We were able to make a push there in the last three minutes and 30 seconds to extend the lead to sixteen, then I thought we did a much better job of finding a rhythm offensively in the second half. We did just as good of a job defensively.”

The Panthers took an early 2-0 lead on a basket by F Guillermo Diaz Graham and did not trail once in the game. Diaz-Graham would finish with 7 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. C Federiko Federiko had one of his better games as he added 8 points, and 5 rebounds, G Jaland Love scored 6 points (on two 3-pointers), and The Freshman Phenom Bub Carrington scored 5 points and 7 rebounds.

When asked about the lineup change that included Leggett, Capel replied, “We made the change in the second half against Canisius, and we were able to come back and win that game and just stuck with that. We wanted to try something different with bigs. Guillermo’s the only other big that we have. I thought he had done some good things, he played very well against West Virginia. He gives us something different, especially offensively, you know, than Federico does, but we need Federico, and I was proud of how he responded. You know, Will played well defensively against West Virginia. Will’s a connector, and he just played with four same things against Canisius and just wanted to go with that there was nothing necessarily that those guys did not do. Talking about Zack and Federico, it was more of just looking at something different.”

As a team, the Panthers grabbed 40 rebounds, was 9 for 24 from 3-point range, and was an impressive 15-21 from the foul line.

But the Panthers did have their struggles in the first half as their turnovers created opportunities for the Bulldogs to keep the game close “Going into this game, we watched film, we knew how they played defensively, and the pressure they were going to put on us, but we were ready for it,” said Lowe.”We expected it and I think with our group of guards, we know how to handle pressure well. And I think we did a good job of that tonight.”

The Panthers were then able to overcome their first-half struggles and ran away with the game in the second half “I mean, just stay poised throughout their pressure. “Said Leggett “They wanted to make the game chaotic. Like Jaland Lowe said, the guards did a pretty good job staying composed and making the right play. We just wanted to make the right play each time down the court.”

All-in-All, a complete game performance for the Panthers, as they will wrap up their non-conference schedule vs. Purdue Fort Wayne on Wednesday. “I’ve seen them grow immensely from the first day of our workouts to now. They’ve been hoopers but just getting adjusted to the pace, the level of play. They’ve done a great job and shout out to them for just being sponges and embracing everything that we give them.”

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