Three games in, the Pitt men’s basketball team has scored its first victory of the year. It wasn’t easy, but the Panthers ultimately prevailed in a 70-62 win over UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday.
Pitt had a pretty balanced attack scoring-wise, which was a little different from their first two games. Five players were in double figures with none scoring more than the 14 from Jonathan Milligan and Jared Wilson-Frame.
Ryan Luther had 13 and led the team in rebounds. Parker Stewart contributed 12 off the bench and Shamiel Stevenson had 11.
As will be the case a lot this season, Pitt was beaten up on the glass. They lost that battle 43-35 and as I said earlier, I don’t expect any of that to change this year. Sure, rebounding is largely an effort thing but Pitt is just really lacking size.
I did like two things in particular, though, aside from the team closing out the game well. First, Pitt shot well from the free throw line, making 21 of 25 shots. Meanwhile, UC Santa Barbara was only 10-22 from the stripe, so that was a big advantage for the Panthers. Second, Pitt really cut back on turnovers tonight. They had 19 against Montana but had only 12 against UC Santa Barbara.
On top of that, they seemed to turn the defensive intensity up a notch after halftime. I’ll be curious to see what Stallings say about that. I’d love to know if the team got an earful at halftime because this looked like it was going to be another loss at that point.
This win isn’t going to turn any heads, obviously. Pitt was playing at home and still struggled in this one. Save for an early 2-0 lead, the Panthers trailed the rest of the first half. Pitt trailed by as much as ten and for a while, it looked like they were headed for another loss. But I really give this team credit for fighting back from several deficits and finding a way to close the deal.
That’s one. Let’s see how many more this team has in them.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.