The Pitt basketball team has had their share of close games as of late, having not won a game in regulation since January 25.
They haven’t learned from all their close encounters.
Senior night wasn’t kind to Pitt seniors Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna as the duo combined to go only 9-for-25 from the floor as the Panthers were upset at home by Florida State 71-66.
Pitt (20-7, 8-6 ACC) shot only 37 percent from the floor and 63 percent from the charity stripe in the loss.
“Not what I expected based on our practices this week,” said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. “I was excited about how we worked and how we played but we didn’t play like we practiced. This was the result. We need to get it right and get better at executing offensively. That is really affecting a lot of what we are doing. Impatience is a big part of our issue offensively. That is something that we have been stressing and talking about this past week. We didn’t come out and do it offensively in this game.”
The same old problems continued to plague the Panthers early- missed shots, missed free throws and turnovers- as Pitt went nearly five minutes without making a field goal in the first half and saw themselves down by as many as 10 in the first half on multiple occasions.
However Pitt closed the half strong and pulled within 34-31 on a three-pointer from James Robinson, but the Panthers allowed a wide open three from Seminoles guard Aaron Thomas at the first half buzzer and went into the locker room down 37-31.
The big difference early was missed opportunities at the offensive end as the Panthers shot only 38.5 percent from the floor, while allowing Florida State (16-11, 7-8) to knock down 54.2 of their first half attempts.
Pitt came out of the locker room and outscored the Seminoles 11-5 to start the second half, tying the game at 42, but the Panthers couldn’t take the lead despite having plenty of opportunities.
“We need to execute better on offense,” said Pitt guard Cameron Wright. “The game is simple. We are making it difficult on ourselves and taking tougher shots. That comes with practice. There are little things that we need to work on that will help us throughout the game.”
After making 13-of-24 shots in the first half, the Seminoles started the second half 1-for-11 from the field and went seven and a half minutes without a field goal. Despite those struggles, Florida State never lost the lead.
After missing his first seven attempts from behind the arc, Patterson knocked down his first three of the night with just over a minute left to pull Pitt within 60-57. However it was too little too late for Pitt as Florida State knocked down all of their free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
On the night Pitt missed 10 free throws while Florida State wen an impressive 27-fo-31 from the line.
“The free throws in the second half, that weighed on us when you keep missing and they are knocking down free throws,” added Dixon. “They beat us at the free throw line. The only thing that stands out is that we out rebounded them. At the same time, with the 14 offense rebounds we didn’t seem to get the finishes or baskets to go with it. We have got work to do.”
Patterson heated up down the stretch, scoring the final 16 points for the Panthers, finishing with 22 points to lead Pitt. Wright also finished in double figures with 12.
Zanna grabbed 14 rebounds in the loss, but made only one shot from the floor, finishing with seven points.
The loss was Pitt’s third in a row and their fifth in the last seven games after starting the season 18-2.
Pitt is off until Wednesday when they travel to Boston College.
“I don’t know what it is,” Dixon said. “We have got to play better. I believe we are a better team than this. We can’t sit here and say we lost this guy, and this guy is injured. Everybody is banged up at this time of the year. We need to play through some things. We need to play through missed shots. We are letting a missed shot affect us two plays later and that is something we are trying to address. We have got work to do.”