Pitt hosted UNC Wilmington at the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday night, and for the first time this season, the Panthers were able to notch a win, topping the Seahawks 59-51.
From the start, the game stood in stark contrast to the team’s last at the Pete, as Pitt held UNC Wilmington in check early and was able to score confidently and consistently. That allowed the Panthers to shoot out to a 17-6 lead seven minutes into the game, with each of Pitt's five starters contributing and Texas Tech transfer Jamarius Burton chipping in a three-pointer off the bench in his debut.
Pitt stagnated a bit over the next few minutes, but by the seven-minute mark, the team held a 24-13 lead. And at that point, the Panthers had given a remarkably even effort, with all five starters having scored at least four points. That boded well for Pitt, as John Hugley entered the game as the only Pitt player to post double-digit point totals in the team’s previous two games. And by halftime, Hugley was up to seven points, as were Dan Oladapo and Femi Odukale, and the Panthers led 34-21.
The Panthers came out a bit complacent in the second half, and by the 16-minute mark, the Seahawks had come up with five turnovers and cut the lead to 40-30. Pitt would do enough to keep UNC Wilmington at arm’s length up until the midway point of the second half. However, at that point, a scoring drought came back to bite the Panthers, as the Seahawks pulled within two, trimming Pitt’s lead to 49-47.
That would light a fire under Pitt’s stars, as Hugley and Odukale began to attack the rim with more vigor and eventually set Pitt up with a 54-47 lead at the seven-minute mark. But UNC Wilmington would continue to hound Pitt on both sides of the floor, and three minutes later, Pitt was struggling to build on a 55-50 lead. That score would remain intact until William Jeffress hit a free throw with 2:17 left in the game, which made it 56-50.
From that point on, the game descended into a series of fouls and free throws, with Pitt eventually coming out on top, 59-51. Once again, Hugley was Pitt’s top scorer, as he finished with a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double. With the win, Pitt improved to 1-2 on the season and put itself in position to even out to a .500 record with a victory over Towson in its next game, which is set for Friday.