Now ranked 23rd, the Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball team faced the Seton Hall Pirates just two days after their signature win against Syracuse and did not win pretty but the 56-46 score showed that they got the job done.
“It’s a good win,” Lamar Patterson said. “It keeps our momentum going. We’re taking it one game at a time.”
The Panthers opened an 8-2 advantage, thanks in large part to Patterson who made two three point shots to open the game. Patterson’s confidence to hit threes in an attempt to set the tempo for his team.
Unfortunately this attempt was in vein as despite an early 11-6 Panther lead, the score stayed that way for a while. It was an offensive struggle and neither team could find their rhythm.
Seton Hall’s leading scorer Fuquan Edwin picked it up though scoring 12 points in the first half.
The Pirates got their first lead of the game off a miss that was rebounded by center Kevin Johnson. Johnson’s lay-up went in and all of a sudden Seton Hall had themselves an 18-16 lead. J.J. Moore would tie things up but this was short lived as Edwin connected on a three point shot just as the shoot clock expired.
Pitt would not go away however as it was Durand Johnson that responded with a three of his own tying the game once again. Edwin was not done as on the very next possession he made a three. The Panthers would respond with a goaltending shot that Adams attempted and he made the subsequent foul shot. That basket which tied things at 24 would be the last of the half.
Seton Hall started out with a one point lead in the early stages of the second half, however Pitt would pull away. Steven Adams would get double digit rebounds and also set a personal best for most free throws made.
A Tray Woodall three put the Panthers up 30-28 and with 14:30 left to go in the second half, the lead was extended when Moore made a three to give his team a 35-28 lead. This forced a Seton Hall timeout.
The Pirates would slowly come back again and they would take a 39-38 lead when Edwin split free throws. The Panthers would retake the lead 40-39, where it held.
With 7:38 left in the second half, Edwin went down in pain and stayed on the court. He would hobble off the court with help. After a couple minutes at being looked at on the side, he would come back into the game.
Adams had a big dunk that brought the crowd to its feet but after he was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim, it became a 42-41 game.
The Panthers would respond and Cam Wright came up huge with two free throws and a lay-up extending the lead to five. Wright was then fouled again and drained both shots.
“Every day I just try to bring a lot of energy to the table,” Wright said. “My teammates do a good job of getting me the ball and I just try to finish.”
This became a theme as the Panthers would find themselves at the line, and more often then not make their free throws.
This wore down the Pirates who were unable to stay with the Panthers late.
“We were trying to make them shoot threes,” Head Coach Kevin Willard said. “They have such a size advantage over people. We did a decent job with that but not enough, we wanted them to put up at least 20 threes. We got into a little trouble when they started dribble penetrating.”
The 19-5 [7-4] Panthers will next play Saturday in a rematch against Cincinnati. The game will start at 6 p.m. on ESPN. The team will next be home on Monday February 18 against Notre Dame with the tip off scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN.