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Panthers lose heartbreaker to NC State, 74 - 73

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt was in today’s game with NC State the entire way and the winner was not determined until the final minute. Unfortunately, the Panthers were unable to come out on the winning side of this matchup, losing 74-73 and dropping to 9-8 (5-7 ACC).

Down three with 23 seconds remaining, Justin Champagnie converted two free throws to cut the gap to one. After a traveling violation was called on the inbounds play, Pitt had a chance to take the lead. But subsequent shots were missed by Au’Diese Toney and Champagnie as time ran out.

The Panthers put up a fight through the entire game and continued to show that they are a competitive team in the ACC. But the result still was another loss.

Both halves of the game were a back-and-forth affair with the Panthers only being down at halftime by one point, and ultimately losing the game by only one point, which, of course, was the game’s final margin.

As has been the case through much of the season, Justin Champagnie showed his worth on this Panthers team by leading the team in points (18) and rebounds (10). Au’Diese Toney and Ithiel Horton followed Champagnie in the points column with 17 and 14, respectively. Jericole Hellems led NC State with 17.

Pitt did plenty right, shooting 50% from the field, winning the rebounding battle (27-26), and made more free throws (19) than NC State attempted (18). But the Panthers still had 14 turnovers and the Wolfpack were even more efficient on offense, making a blistering 57% of their shots.

Justin Champagnie is a clear candidate for ACC Player of the Year but the team’s outlook is not great at the moment with six losses in their last seven games. What Pitt can do in the ACC Tournament, though, is anybody’s guess at this point.

The Panthers’ next game will be Saturday February 20th against 16th ranked Florida State Seminoles at 4 p.m. on the ACC Network.