After dropping back-to-back conference games, Jamie Dixon’s No. 25 Pitt Panthers needed any kind of win they could get Wednesday night when they traveled to Miami for an ACC tilt.
They didn’t earn many style points, but Pitt scraped together just enough to come away with a 59-55 ugly overtime win to remain among the ACC’s top four teams.
Both teams struggled to score the ball all night long which made this game a lot closer than it should have been for the Panthers.
After scoring the game’s first four points, Pitt (19-4, 7-3 ACC) saw Miami (11-11, 2-7) go on a 9-0 run and Pitt barely recovered as the Hurricanes held a slim lead for most of the first half.
Pitt junior Cameron Wright kept the Panthers in the game early, scoring 10 of Pitt’s first 20 points, but no one else in a Pitt uniform could get going offensively.
Pitt’s leading scorer Lamar Patterson struggled to get going for the third consecutive game, but it wasn’t until Patterson drained back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the first half, his only two field goals off the half, that the Panthers gained some momentum, taking a 29-28 lead into the break.
Both teams came out ice cold in the second half as neither team scored a point for nearly a five minute span until Patterson drained another triple.
A layup by Josh Newkirk gave Pitt their biggest lead of the game at 37-30 with 13 minutes remaining in the game, but despite holding the Hurricanes to only one made field goal for a span of close to 11 minutes, the Panthers couldn’t extend their lead and allowed Miami to stay in the game.
After the Newkirk layup the Panthers made only one field goal, a jumper from Talib Zanna, for over a 10 minute span.
The Hurricanes took a 42-41 lead with just over three minutes left on a jumper from Rion Brown before Pitt’s James Robinson broke the field goal drought making a tough contested layup to put Pitt back on top.
Miami had a couple chances to regain the lead, most notably missing four consecutive free throws down the stretch, but Pitt did very little to put the game away.
The Panthers didn’t pressure the ball and allowed an open three-pointer by Brown to give Miami a one-point lead with 25 seconds remaining, but Patterson had the answer and put Pitt up 46-45 by finally getting to the rim and making a layup with 13 seconds remaining.
But Robinson fouled Miami’s Manu Lecomte, with seven seconds remaining to give the Hurricanes another chance to win the games but Lecomte made only one of two attempts as the Hurricanes made just 2-of-9 attempts from the charity stripe in the second half.
Wright, who didn’t score in regulation since early in the first half, wasn’t close with his desperation three and the game went into overtime.
Brown and Patterson exchanged three pointers right off the bat before Pitt tightened up defensively and Patterson took over at the offensive end, scoring Pitt’s first seven points of the extra period.
After that Pitt was barely able to hold on to gain a big road win.
Pitt shot a mere 33 percent (18-for-54) from the floor and made only 4-of-14 three point attempts.
But the Hurricanes were limited to only 34 percent shooting on the night and shot themselves in the foot by making only 14-of-25 (56 percent) of their free-throw attempts.
Patterson, who scored 10 of Pitt’s 13 points in overtime, led all scorers with 25 points although he made only 6-of-14 shots from the floor. Wright also finished in double figures for the Panthers with 12, also grabbing nine rebounds, although Pitt was outrebounded for the third consecutive game 44-37.
Brown came off the bench to lead the Hurricanes with 21 points.
Pitt is off until Saturday when they will play host to Virginia Tech.
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