Pitt Basketball Continues To Struggle But Manages To Defeat Boston College 61-60 In Overtime


Jan 6, 2015; Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Josh Newkirk (13) controls the ball while Boston College Eagles guard Olivier Hanlan (21) defends during the first half at Silvio O. Conte Forum. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Looking to improve upon last weekend’s blowout loss to NC State, Pitt squared off against Boston College on the road.  The Eagles were looking to rebound from a blowout to powerhouse No. 2 Duke.

In Pitt’s last game, it was only the eighth time that Jamie Dixon lost by 18 or more points in a game, as the Panthers struggled on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

The same pattern held tonight, but Pitt finished on an 18-7 run to win the game 61-60 in overtime, as sophomore guard Josh Newkirk made a game-winning layup.

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Jamie Dixon’s team lacks a legitimate scorer, nor do they have experience.  Usually, scorers evolve for Pitt, but that just has not happened with this team.

Senior guard Cameron Wright continues to struggle offensively, missing several shots and turning the ball over.  Junior point guard James Robinson lacks a scoring touch.  The Panthers do not shoot many three-pointers, likely because they struggle scoring.

On the defensive side, the Eagles drove to the basket and made several easy layups, as Pitt continues to struggle.  The Panthers do not have an inside presence, as Dixon refuses to play Uchebo that much.  Junior transfer center Tyrone Haughton has yet to see the court this season, and senior Derrick Randall cannot score.

For Pitt (11-4, 1-1 ACC ), sophomore point guard Josh Newkirk scored 15 points off the bench, including key layups at the end of the game, and sophomore forward Michael Young scored 15 points and 6 rebounds.  Sophomore forward Sheldon Jeter had his best game as a Panther, adding 11 points and playing important minutes down the stretch of the game.

For Boston College (7-6, 0-2 ACC ), junior guard Olivier Hanlan scored a game-high 18 points and 8 rebounds, and senior forward Aaron Brown scored 11 points.

Boston College started the game on an 11-4 run, capped off by an Eddie Odio dunk.

The game was filled with turnovers and poor shooting, as Pitt had its largest lead of the first half at 22-18.  In the final three minutes of the half, Garland Owens scored 7 points and the Eagles soared ahead to a 27-22 edge at halftime.

Pitt shot an abysmal 9 of 27 (33%) in the first half, and their transition defense was awful.  The Eagles did not shoot a free throw, whereas Pitt only shot four.

The second half did not start any better, as Pitt did not score until five minutes in and Boston College increased their lead to 31-24.

Both teams exchanged buckets, but the Eagles managed to extend their lead 51-41 off of easy layups with a little over three minutes remaining.

Pitt showed some life going on a 12-2 run,  as Josh Newkirk stole the ball and made a layup to tie the game with 30 seconds remaining.  The Eagles missed two easy looks from Patrick Heckmann and 7-foot-1 center Dennis Clifford at the buzzer, so the game went to overtime.

Sophomore forward Sheldon Jeter saw extended playing time and was important down the stretch.

In overtime, Hanlan nailed a jumper and Heckmann drained a three-pointer to make it 60-55.  Newkirk and Jeter each responded with layups to make it a 60-59 game.

Boston College turned the ball over with 11 seconds remaining, and Newkirk flew to the basket for a layup with 5.9 seconds remaining.

Heckmann drove to the basket and missed a potential game-winning layup with 0.3 seconds left, as Pitt came back to win it 61-60.

Newkirk and Jeter stepped up big down the stretch, as this was the most positive sign of the sophomores’ progress.

It was not pretty at all, but a win is a win.


Pitt will begin a three-game home stand, as they host the Clemson Tigers on Saturday afternoon.