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Pitt outpaces Boston College 69-67 in another thriller

John Hugley willed the Panthers to their first ACC win, with a career-high 32 points and 13 rebounds in the game

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt faced Boston College in an ACC tilt at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday afternoon, with the team hoping to get back on track after a decent showing in a close loss to Louisville. However, the Panthers came into the matchup missing Ithiel Horton once again, as his legal troubles prompted Pitt to suspend him after his brief return to team activities. Fortunately for Pitt, that would not prove to be a hindrance to the team, and the Panthers would defeat the Eagles 69-67.

Boston College would jump out to a 7-2 lead early, forcing Pitt head coach Jeff Capel to burn a timeout just three minutes after the tipoff and regroup. That proved to be a wise move, as the Panthers came out of the break looking sharper and more focused, and moments later, John Hugley and Mouhamadou Gueye tied the game at 9-9 with back-to-back threes. About a minute later, Hugley sunk two free throws to give Pitt an 11-9 lead, its first of the day. Those shots also gave Hugley eight of Pitt’s 11 points, and his outsized contributions would prove to be a theme of Saturday’s matchup.

However, no sooner did Hugley check out of the game than did Boston College regain the lead on a Makai Ashton-Langford three. Upon his return to the court, Hugley continued to will Pitt back into the game, getting to the foul line regularly at the expense of Boston College bigs James Karnik and Quinten Post, both of whom racked up three fouls in the opening 20 minutes. With a little over four minutes left in the half, Hugley would knock down his seventh free throw to tie the game 26-26 and give himself a 69 percent share of Pitt’s point total. But despite Hugley’s effort, the Panthers trailed the Eagles at the halftime break 36-32.

In the second half, Hugley would continue to win the battle of the bigs, as Karnik and Post both reached four fouls in the first few minutes of play. However, he would fail to capitalize on that during a trip to the foul line, and the score would be 38-35, with Boston College in front after an opening sequence that was light on scoring. Five minutes into the half, Pitt would take a 39-38 lead, but that would quickly be conceded. At that point, the two sides would begin to trade blows, but Pitt would eventually start to pull away. And by the midway point of the half, it would be 52-44, Pitt.

Karnik would foul out, leaving the Boston College frontcourt thin. But even down a key contributor, the Eagles would continue to fight as the Panthers showed signs of stagnation, and with just under six minutes left to play, they had tied the game at 56-56. Pitt would respond, though, with Hugley making two free throws and a layup to set his team up with a late 60-56 lead. However, Femi Odukale would then foul out just as Ashton-Langford was finding his rhythm for Boston College, and Ashton-Langford would tie it up 64-64, with less than two minutes left on the clock.

But Boston College would see Post foul out and put Hugley on the foul line, where he would hit both of his free throws. And moments later, Jaeden Zackery would foul out for Boston College as well, putting Jamarius Burton on the line, and he would knock down both of his shots as well to make it 68-64, Pitt, with under 20 seconds remaining in the matchup. A T.J. Bickerstaff layup and free throw would narrow Pitt’s lead to one and set up another tense finish, but a missed layup by Ashton-Langford as time expired would give the Panthers a much-needed 69-67 ACC victory.

In the game, Hugley set a new career high in points, with 32. And with 13 rebounds on the day, he would post his fifth double-double of the season. Burton and Odukale would also finish in double figures, with 14 and 11 points, respectively. And for Boston College, Ashton-Langford would also set a new career high, with 23 points in his team’s losing effort.

With the win, Pitt would improve to 6-9 and notch its first ACC win of the season, making its conference record 1-3. In addition, the win was the Panthers’ first in ACC competition since March 2, 2021. As for Boston College, the team would fall below .500, with a 6-7 overall record and a 1-2 ACC mark, and it is still seeking its first road victory since Feb. 8, 2020. Pitt will now turn its attention to its upcoming trip to Syracuse, where the team will look to build on its momentum.