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Pitt suffers 68-67 setback in matchup with Notre Dame

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NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt took on Notre Dame at the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday night in its second ACC game of the season, and although the Panthers came into the matchup having won three of their last four, they could not upend the Irish and lost 68-67. The game was the third this season that Pitt dropped by a single point. It was also the second such game that Pitt lost to an ACC opponent, with the first being a 57-56 defeat at the hands of Virginia on Dec. 3.

Notre Dame appeared to be the stronger team early on, with Dane Goodwin, in particular, troubling the Panthers. However, five minutes in, Pitt led Notre Dame 9-7, with Mouhamadou Gueye and Femi Odukale chipping in three points apiece. Due to a general inability to convert on shots on the part of each team, that scoreline would go untouched for the better part of three minutes. And by the midway point in the first half, it would be tied up at 14-14.

Five minutes later, the Irish would lead 24-21, and after a late push by the Panthers, the game would be tied 30-30 at the halftime break, with Gueye and Odukale leading Pitt in scoring, with nine points each through the first 20 minutes.

Pitt would continue to add to its point total, and five minutes into the second half, it would hold a 40-35 lead. After that, things would continue to go Pitt’s way, and halfway through the final frame, the Panthers would lead 46-41. But the Irish would storm back into the game, pulling within two of the Panthers with just under seven minutes left to play. And with five minutes left, the score would be 55-55, and the Irish would begin to reassert themselves.

The Irish would lead the Panthers 61-57 with three minutes left to play, after a made three by Goodwin. However, Hugley would respond, making it 61-60, with Pitt down by one. And a three by Burton would tie the game at 63-63 with just under two minutes left on the clock, setting up yet another dramatic finish for the Panthers. Unfortunately for them, this one would not go their way, as the contest would be decided by a Prentiss Hubb jumper that would put the Irish up 68-67 with five seconds left. And with Pitt unable to respond, that would go down as the final score of the game.

In an unusual turn of events, Pitt would see four players finish the game with double-digit point totals. John Hugley led the way, with 18 points, while Jamarius Burton finished second on the team, with 15. And behind them, Mouhamadou Gueye and Femi Odukale had 14 points and 13 points, respectively.

With the loss, Pitt fell to 5-8 on the season as Notre Dame improved to 7-5. The loss is a likely sign of things to come for the Panthers, as they sit in last place in the ACC and face a tough road ahead, with several difficult matchups yet to come. Still, Pitt will try to get back on track when it faces Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on New Year’s Day.