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CBI Finals: Pitt Falls Apart In Second Half, Loses To Washington State

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J.J. Moore had a big game, but it wasn't enough (Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE)
J.J. Moore had a big game, but it wasn't enough (Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE)

Two great games in the CBI? Whod've thunk it?

Pitt's had two nailbiters in the last two CBI contests and after coming out on top against Butler, fell just short against Washington State. If you've watched Pitt much this season, this was a typical Panthers game - competitive in the first half, Barnum and Bailey in the second, comeback falls short.

Pitt played well enough to hold a bigger advantage than the three-point lead they had at the half. The area where they faltered, though, was in perimeter defense. That's not just been an issue this season, but it seems like it always is. Washington State was red hot from three-point range and that really kept it close.

Thing is, though, that Pitt also shot well from long distance, hitting seven of 13 three-pointers. You've got to give Washington State credit for stomping the life out of Pitt during that stretch when they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Opening that big lead was just a tad too much to overcome and the reason the Cougars won.

Meanwhile, if you're a Pitt fan, plucking your eyes out in the second half seemed like a reasonable action.

The Panthers fell behind by double digits and had a stretch when they made only 2-15 shots. Somehow, they found themselves in it at the end and had a couple of chances to win the game.

The game was frustrating to watch, but Pitt gets the next two at home. It's not a guarantee Pitt wins two in a row, but if they even show up at all, winning each game is possible. The bad news is that Washington State could get forward Brock Motum back for either or both and the team will be even better. Motum is their best player and leading scorer/rebounder.

If you're looking for a positive out of this, it's the continued play of J.J. Moore. Moore had 16 points tonight and carried Pitt's offense a bit. After struggling much of the season, he's looking like a player capable of playing a big role next season. That's little consolation tonight, but here's the thing - winning or losing the CBI isn't going to make or break this team. Winning will be nice and you'd much rather come out on top in something like this, but a big part of this is looking ahead to next season. Moore's one big reason why I'm a bit more optimistic about 2012-13.

Next game is Wednesday at the Pete.

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