Pitt Basketball: Panthers Beat Providence Late On Clutch Plays

Well, this game went pretty much like the last several - right down to the wire.

In the end, though, Pitt made plays and Providence didn't and that was the determining factor.

Turnovers were clearly the story as Pitt had a whopping 22 of them. The eight-day layoff they've had since that UConn game probably had something to do with it. Almost just as bad was Pitt's foul trouble. Brad Wanamaker fouled out and three other Panthers had four.

And so much for all of the pre-game talk about containing Providence's Marshon Brooks. Brooks lit up the Panthers to the tune of 28 points, shooting nearly 50% from the field.

Still, Pitt was shooting the ball well (over 50% from the field and three-point range) and looked to have the game in hand. But despite leading much of the night, Pitt found itself staring at a three-point deficit with a little more than a minute left. That's due in part to the team getting a bit too comfortable after taking an 11-point lead with about seven minutes left. Over the next five minutes, we saw six turnovers and four missed free throws. That put the team behind by three and it was looking like 2009 all over again. And despite getting zone defense, instead of continuing to make shots like it had throughout the game, the team got really sloppy.

But after playing a clean game all night, Providence seemed to sense the pressure was on, turning the ball over, missing a hastily-taken three-pointer, and clanking two free throws all in the final minute. But don't think Pitt didn't make any plays of its own. That allowed Pitt to get the 83-79 win. Travon Woodall hit a big three to give the team a one-point lead with under a minute left and made four straight free throws to seal the win. In fact, Pitt made its final nine free throws and final three shots get the victory.

I've said it before, but it warrants repeating - it's someone different any given game. Tonight Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker combined for only 19 points, but Gil Brown stepped up with 19 of his own. And speaking of Gil, he's had at least 15 points in four of his past five games. I'm not ready to say the inconsistency is over, but he's been pretty hot lately.

But Brown only had two points in the second half and Pitt clearly could not have won this game without Gary McGhee. McGhee was scoreless with two rebounds in the first half, but finished strong with 13 and 9. He really came up big down the stretch.

A good win for Pitt on the road, but let's hope some of the rust is off by Saturday's game against Marquette.

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