Pitt Rides Big Second Half Surge to 79-64 Win Over Virginia Tech

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Freshman guard Jaland Lowe celebrates. Credit: Vince Butts/UMT.

PITTSBURGH – Pitt broke open a tight contest with a 22-2 second half run and cruised to a 79-64 win over Virginia Tech Saturday evening at the Petersen Events Center. Blake Hinson scored 22 points to lead the Panthers, while Jaland Lowe (18) and Ishmael Leggett (13) also scored in double figures.

Pitt shot an ACC-high 50.9 percent (29-of-57) from the field and held the Hokies to just 3-of-20 (.150) shooting from three-point range to improve to 18-9 overall and 9-7 in the ACC. The Panthers outscored Virginia Tech, 43-28, in the second half and led by as much as 20 points in the game.

Pitt scored the first seven points of the game as Hinson had a baseline dunk on the first possession and added a deep three from the top of the key to cap the run. The Panthers added another 7-0 run midway through the half to grab a 19-14 lead on a Leggett finish in the lane with 8:55 remaining.

Virginia Tech made five consecutive shots over a three minute span to get back to even at 34 on a Sean Pedulla three from just in front of the Pitt bench with 54 seconds left in the half. Both teams made a pair of free throws in the final minute to enter the half tied at 36.

Hinson led the Panthers with 12 first half points, while Lowe added eight points. Zack Austin also had a strong half with five points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Pitt went 12-of-25 (.480) from the field, including 5-of-12 (.417) from three-point range. Virginia Tech shot 50 percent in the half as Pedulla led the way with 14 points.

Pitt’s second half charge was sparked by the freshmen backcourt of Lowe and Carlton Carrington who played just five minutes in the opening half due to foul trouble. Lowe hit a jumper with 16:41 to tie the game at 42 and Carrington scored on a transition layup at the 14:42 mark for a 48-42 lead. Leggett followed with a reverse layup, and a Carrington wing three moved it to a 13-0 run to give the Panthers a 53-42 advantage with 12:59 left to play.

Lowe extended the rally with a wing jumper and Guillermo Diaz Graham hit a three at the top of the key as Pitt made 10 of its first 13 field goals attempts after halftime to grab a 58-44 lead at the under-12 media timeout.

Leggett stopped an 8-0 Hokie run with a three-pointer with 5:49 remaining to squash a late charge by the visitors. Lowe scored in the lane and Hinson converted three free throws after being fouled behind the arc to push the lead to 72-54 with 4:38 remaining.

Lowe pushed the lead to 20 with a steal and fast break finish with 3:30 remaining and Pitt cruised to the win in front of a raucous crowd of over 12,000 fans.

Pedulla finished with a game-high 26 points as he went 11-of-13 from the foul line, while Mylyjael Poteat came off the bench for 10 points and seven rebounds for Virginia Tech (15-12, 7-9).

SECOND HALF SURGE

Pitt used a 22-2 second half run over a span of 6:44 to take over the game. Carrington scored seven points in that stretch, while Diaz Graham had five points. The Panthers held Virginia Tech to 1-of-11 (.091) shooting from the field, including 0-of-6 from three-point range during the game changing run.

ZACK ATTACK

Zack Austin made a significant impact on both ends of the floor scoring nine points, while also recording season highs in rebounds (14) and blocked shots (5). He hit a three-pointers in the opening half to become just the 14th player in the NCAA since 1994-95 to record over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 150 blocks, and 150 three-point field goals in a career.

SUPER SIXTH MAN

Leggett, the leading candidate for ACC Sixth Man of the Year, came off the bench to finish with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists, and a steal. He leads ACC guards (6-5 and under) in rebounds and has now scored in double figures in nine of the past 10 games off the bench. Leggett helped the Panthers secure a 21-10 edge in bench scoring to improve to 14-1 on the year when scoring more bench points.

LOWE REACHING NEW HEIGHTS

Lowe continued his outstanding play in ACC games scoring in double figures for the 11 time in league play. He added four rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a blocked shot to his 18-point scoring effort against the Hokies.

UP NEXT

Pitt is back on the road Tuesday, Feb. 27 to close out the month at Clemson (7 p.m. – ACCN). The Panthers are 5-1 this month as they continue their push towards an NCAA Tournament bid.

Source: Matt Plizga/Pitt Athletics