PITTSBURGH – This season, Pitt has developed fairly a behavior for digging itself into self-inflicted holes which might be too deep to flee from.
Keep in mind the primary Miami loss – when the Panthers allowed a 16-Zero run to start the sport, then tied the rating at 18, then fell behind by 20 within the second half earlier than chopping the deficit to 4 factors, 51-47, within the remaining levels of regulation?
Or the Syracuse loss – when the Panthers trailed by 16 factors with 9:20 to play, trimmed the hole to a few with 33 seconds left however couldn’t end on the finish?
Or the Duke loss – when a 23-Eight second half scoring run introduced the Panthers inside three factors of the lead (68-65) with four:26 remaining earlier than the Blue Devils settled all the way down to spoil Au’Diese Toney’s profession evening?
Or how concerning the latest setback at Virginia Tech – when the Panthers got here again from a 19-point deficit to path by six factors, 59-53, with Three:21 left?
Sadly, it occurred once more on Saturday.
You may add Pitt’s 59-56 loss to Virginia as the most recent in an extended line of comebacks that fell quick in ACC play. Within the span of two minutes, the Panthers managed to climb out of a 13-point gap with Three:50 to play and put itself ready to win. Trey McGowens had an opportunity to present Pitt the lead with 5 seconds left, however his contested Three-point try – a questionable shot choice – clanked off the left facet of the rim. Then, Ryan Murphy had an opportunity to tie the sport on on the buzzer, however didn’t get his shot off in time.
Shut … however not shut sufficient. Identical story, completely different day.
“I assumed we did some actually good issues on this recreation and to be ready to have an opportunity to win with underneath a minute left was a place that we wish to be in,” stated Jeff Capel after the sport. “However, now we have to have the ability to capitalize.”
Pitt weathered a gradual begin and trailed by simply two factors at halftime, albeit a six-minute scoring drought to start the second half allowed Virginia to construct its double-digit lead.
Ah, scoring droughts, one other nagging behavior of Pitt’s younger and inexperienced group.
“We appear to have (scoring droughts) each recreation, and it’s irritating,” stated Capel. “It’s irritating for all of us. I don’t have a solution for it.”
It wasn’t till the ultimate 4 minutes that the Panthers, led by impressed play from Xavier Johnson, ignited to make the sport a recreation once more. They pressured some well timed turnovers – totaling 16 for the sport – and raced out in transition, which led to straightforward baskets with Virginia’s stymying protection out of place. Had the Panthers accomplished extra of that earlier, issues would’ve been quite a bit simpler for them down the stretch.
“We had been the aggressors,” stated Johnson, who completed with a team-high 16 factors. “(Capel) informed us to go 33 on the 1-2-1-1 press, and that helped flip us round. We’re an excellent defensive workforce. That’s the place we excel.”
However Virginia, a workforce not recognized for its offensive prowess, shot 43.Eight % for the sport – 52.Zero % within the first half and 34.Eight % within the second. So, Pitt’s protection didn’t activate till its backs had been in opposition to the wall. And to win within the ACC, that may’t be the case.
“Generally we take our foot off the fuel, and there are too good of groups on this league to do this,” stated Toney. “You at all times need to maintain your foot down.”
The loss marked Pitt’s fourth straight and seventh in its final 9 video games. You may label Saturday’s late-game comeback as a vivid spot in a darkish time for the workforce. Nevertheless, comebacks aren’t any good once they don’t translate to wins.