Pitt traveled on the road for a game at Notre Dame on Wednesday. By most indications, the Panthers didn’t play terribly. Still, they came up short in an 80-72 loss.
I mentioned briefly in the gamethread post that Notre Dame (14-8) has been incredibly hot on offense lately, scoring 170 points in their last two games coming into tonight. The hope, obviously, was that Pitt (14-9) would slow them down a bit but no such luck. The Irish scored 42 points while shooting over 50% both from the field overall and also from three-point range in the first half. The Panthers’ offense wasn’t terrible in that first half. It was just difficult trying to keep up, frankly. And while Notre Dame, predictably, did not shoot as well in the second half, they still managed 38 points, which was more than enough.
You never say there’s nothing that can be done to combat hot shooting. Perhaps Pitt could have tried to apply more backcourt pressure. Maybe they could have defended the three-point line better. I don’t know, sometimes it’s just not your night. I knew Pitt’s chances of winning a shootout were going to be small and when the game went in that direction, you got the sense that it was going to be hard to win. Notre Dame just made enough shots early to separate themselves.
The Panthers were burned in particular by two guys - Temple Gibbs and John Mooney. The first name, of course, will be a familiar one. Gibbs, of course, is the brother of former Pitt standout Ashton Gibbs and a kid Pitt pursued back in the day. He had 21 points tonight while Mooney added 18 and ten boards.
Not too upset at this one. Though, it was kind of a shame to waste a pretty good night collectively from Justin Champagnie (20 points), Xavier Johnson (17 points), and Trey McGowens (15 points). As I said before, the nights you get all of those guys clicking at once are kind of scarce and all three played/shot fairly well tonight.
Still, these two teams were seemingly pretty even coming in and the Irish just shot so well in the first half. It’s a game that you clearly want to win if you’re Pitt. But this program isn’t to the point where expecting to win games like this is all that realistic. They’re, at best, tossups and the coin landed on the wrong side tonight.
Next up, Pitt has a home game against Georgia Tech on Saturday.