Pitt and Vanderbilt squared off at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday night in a matchup of high-major teams that finished below .500 last season, and the result was a competitive but sloppy contest that saw the Commodores top the Panthers 68-52.
The two struggling teams kicked off the evening with an exchange of turnovers, but Vanderbilt would settle down and find its way to the basket, jumping out to a 5-2 lead. That early advantage would be quickly conceded, though, as the Panthers went on a 16-4 run that featured made three-pointers by Femi Odukale and Nate Santos and gave them an 18-9 lead.
After seven minutes and 11 scoreless possessions, Vanderbilt awoke to go on an 11-2 run and tie the game at 20-20 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half. Pitt would regain the lead on a made free throw by Jamarius Burton, but Terren Frank and Tyrin Lawrence would get Vanderbilt up to 24 points. And after a layup by Daniel Oladapo added two to Pitt’s total, it would be 24-23 at the half.
In the second half, Vanderbilt would strike first, pulling out to a 26-23 lead on a made jumper by Quinton Millora-Brown. But Odukale would be fouled on a three-point attempt, and after he sunk all of his foul shots, the game would again be tied at 26-26. At that point, Vanderbilt would begin to pull ahead as Scotty Pippen Jr. heated up and racked up six points and an assist in a five-minute span. That run would give the Commodores a 38-31 advantage, but the Panthers would fight back.
At the 9:17 mark, Pitt would trim Vanderbilt’s lead to 41-40, with two made free throws by Odukale. With those two shots, Odukale improved to 7-for-7 on the night from the charity stripe, with Pitt as a whole at 14-for-17. That was a vast improvement on Odukale’s 1-for-4 showing and the team’s 16-for-26 mark against Towson last Friday, but it would not be enough to keep Pitt in the game.
Vanderbilt would go on a 10-2 run and take a 54-44 lead with just under six minutes left to play. This time, it would be Jordan Wright and Trey Thomas leading the way for the Commodores. Thomas would make four three-pointers and two foul shots in five minutes to make it 64-46, and Pitt would not recover from that run, eventually falling 68-52.
With the loss, Pitt fell to 2-3 on the season as Vanderbilt improved to 4-1. Odukale and Thomas would go down as the game’s top scorers, with 14 points apiece. Santos and Pippen were also tied with 11 points each. And for the second game in a row, John Hugley spent a fair amount of time on the bench and was held to a single-figure total, with just one point in the contest. Pitt will look to get back on track on Saturday, when it faces UMBC.