The struggling Pitt men’s basketball team took on Colgate at the Petersen Events Center on Thursday night, looking for an opportunity to pick off a low-major opponent and get back on track after a 2-6 start to the season. Despite some early bumps in the road that saw the Panthers fall behind the Raiders late in the first half, they would recover and put on a strong showing in the final frame to notch a 71-68 win and snap a four-game losing streak.
In the early goings of Thursday’s contest, Pitt looked to be the dominant team, as it shot out to a 10-2 lead, with Mouhamadou Gueye and Jamarius Burton both knocking down three-point shots. However, Colgate would bounce back, as Tucker Richardson heated up from beyond the arc, knocking down two three-pointers of his own. And with that, Pitt’s lead would be cut to four, with the Panthers up 14-10 just over six minutes into the game.
Colgate would continue to chip away at Pitt’s lead, and a Richardson layup would bring the Raiders within one point of the Panthers at the midway point of the first half. Moments later, Colgate would take its first lead of the night on a made three by Oliver Lynch-Daniels, which made it 21-19 in favor of the visitors. The Panthers would try to claw their way back into the game, with Burton and Nate Santos leading the charge late in the half. However, Pitt would trail Colgate 33-31 at the halftime break.
Pitt would regain the lead early in the second half, with Gueye and John Hugley capitalizing on some sloppy possessions and subsequent turnovers by Colgate. Then, the Panthers would continue to pile on and pull ahead 43-36 four minutes into the second half. However, the Pitt offense would stagnate a bit around the midway point of the half, and a Nelly Cummings jumper would bring Colgate within two points of Pitt with 11:22 left to play.
The Panthers would keep the Raiders at arm’s length as time ticked off the clock, and with four minutes remaining, they would hold a 63-59 lead. That lead would shrink to 63-62 by the 3:00 mark, and with two makes by Cummings, Colgate would pull ahead 66-64 with 2:36 left.
An exchange of foul shots would leave the scoreline tilted 68-65 in Colgate’s favor with one minute left to play, but a layup and foul shot by Gueye would tie the score at 68-68 and set up a tense finish. Hugley would put in a layup through extensive contact to give the Panthers a 70-68 advantage with 19 seconds left. The Raiders would give the ball to Cummings, hoping to tie the game. But he would have a layup swatted by Femi Odukale with one second remaining, and after a made foul shot by William Jeffress, the final score would be 71-68, Pitt.
With the win, Pitt was able to pull out of a four-game skid and improve to 3-6. The team also proved it could withstand late pressure and gut out a win. That was something of a concern after the team’s last two losses, both of which were by one point and both of which involved the concession of game-winning scores with less than three seconds left to play. Now that Pitt has finally put another notch in the win column, it will look to build on its momentum when it faces Monmouth at the Petersen Events Center on Sunday night.