lair – Pitt outscores North Carolina 65-64

With Pitt trailing by one run and :27 seconds remaining, the Panthers put the ball in the hands of their star player. Jamarius Burton drove the lane and scored a foul and calmly buried two free throws. North Carolina’s last second shot didn’t go off in time, and Pitt got away with a 65-64 victory over the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, completing the season sweep over the preseason ACC favorite.

It marked the third straight fight Pitt shutout by North Carolina on home field. The Panthers improved to 16-7 on the year and 9-3 in the ACC, just one game back in the losing column behind first-place Clemson. The win secures Pitt a regular season winning record for the first time since 2016, the last year the program advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Pitt entered Wednesday’s game as an underdog by 8.5 points, but the Panthers had already eliminated North Carolina earlier in the season and didn’t seem intimidated by the Dean E. Smith Center environment.

Nelly Cummings led the Panthers in scoring with 21 points, while Burton was just behind him with 19 points. For the game, Pitt shot 45% from the floor and also connected seven three-point shots.

Pitt had to fight back in this as they had a scoreless six-minute drought in the early stages of the second half. North Carolina built a 46-40 lead, but Jeff Capel’s team showed some struggle. Cummings stepped up and sparked a 15-2 run. The senior guard connected on three consecutive three-pointers and assisted on a Federiko Federiko bucket.

The Panthers pulled away to a 55-48 lead with 9:12 remaining, but the Tar Heels buckled and rallied on their own. A 9-2 Tar Heel gave them the lead late, but Pitt withstood that charge by earning their sixth road win this season.

Neither team made a shot in the final 3:28 of the game, but Burton’s clutch free throws late in the game ultimately proved to be the difference.

North Carolina was followed by Caleb Love, who finished with a season-high 22 points. Armando Bacot had his difficulties shooting (3 of 10) but finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Tar Heels held a 43-34 rebounding lead for the game, but only a 20-18 second half lead.

Wednesday’s match turned out to be a physical and exciting match. The two teams combined on 38 fouls for the game. Eventually Cummings was fouled and four other players finished with four fouls. There was a technical double on Cummings and UNC guard RJ Davis in the second half, and multiple times the teams had to be separated by referees.

After being the catalyst for Pitt’s last two wins, Blake Hinson was held to just two points. Pitt rallied the game with 10 points and 7 rebounds by Nike Sibande off the bench. Federiko played great defense on Bacot and provided 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Pitt has won three games in a row, all by three points or fewer. The Panthers are now 6-2 on the year in single possession games. Pitt is out this weekend and will be back in action next Tuesday when they welcome Louisville to the Petersen Events Center for a 7 p.m. tip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *