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Panthers storm out to huge lead, hold off Terps’ rally for 73-59 win

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Senior Michael Young (2) led the Panthers with 25 points and nine rebounds in a 73-59 win at Maryland. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

Senior Michael Young (2) led the Panthers with 25 points and nine rebounds in a 73-59 win at Maryland. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

Senior Michael Young (2) led the Panthers with 25 points and nine rebounds in a 73-59 win at Maryland. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

By Dan Sostek | Senior Staff Writer

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In a game the Pitt basketball team led by as much as 25, a 14-point victory might not look like the most impressive of results for the Panthers.

Still, the Panthers (6-1) will take it. They secured the program’s second-ever victory in the ACC/Big Ten challenge, defeating the Maryland Terrapins (7-1) in the team’s first true road game under new head coach Kevin Stallings in College Park, Maryland, 73-59.

Maryland jumped out to a quick lead, as forward Justin Jackson and point guard Melo Trimble hit threes to start the Terrapins out in front 6-0.

Senior forward Michael Young, the ACC’s leading scorer entering the game at 23.3 points per game,  got Pitt on the board by nailing a 3-pointer of his own.

Young’s senior counterpart Jamel Artis — the ACC’s second-leading scorer at 19.3 points per game — scored two straight buckets to give Pitt its first lead of the night, but it wouldn’t last long. Maryland responded with an alley-oop layup to 7-foot-1 forward Michal Cekovsky and another three by Jackson to jump out to an 11-7 lead at the first media timeout.

But after jumping out to its largest lead of the game at six, the Terrapins fell flat.

Pitt regained the lead on a mid-range jumper by Young with 12:01 left in the half. That bucket was the start of a 30-8 run by the Panthers, energized by the two senior scoring leaders, Artis and Young.

Artis, who only had four points up until the 12-minute mark, surged in the run. He finished the first half with 15 points on a pair of threes, a three-point play on a layup and a fastbreak dunk that gave his Panthers their first double-digit lead of the game.

Young also reached double digits in the first half, but instead of working in the post, he did most of his damage from the outside. He drained another three and another jumper off the dribble, and at the end of the half Pitt held a 45-24 lead at the Xfinity Center.

Maryland’s struggles from beyond the arc were one of the biggest reasons for the Terps’ inability to score in the first half.

Playing a 3-2 zone on defense, the Panthers allowed for open long-distance shots from the corner. But the Terrapins couldn’t nail them, only hitting one more three in the entire first half.

Maryland clawed back into Pitt’s huge lead in the second half, hitting five 3-pointers in the first 13 minutes to diminish the Panthers’ lead to 14. Terrapins guard Dion Wiley hit a three with just over five minutes left to cut the Pitt advantage to 12, the smallest gap since 5:14 remained in the first half. A pair of free throws by Cekovsky lowered that deficit to 10.

With 3:58 remaining, Sheldon Jeter missed a pair of free throws, and Maryland immediately followed with a layup by guard Anthony Cowan to drop the Pitt lead to single digits. All of a sudden, the Terrapins were on a 12-1 run and threatening to add their most improbable comeback yet to their undefeated start.

While previewing the matchup on Monday, Stallings said Young and Artis needed to demonstrate their senior leadership when it got to “winning time.” That’s exactly what Young did, knocking down all six of his attempts from the free throw line to curtail the Terrapins’ run and secure the victory for Pitt.

Young led the Panthers with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Artis chipped in with 22 and six. Trimble led Maryland with 13 points, only his third time scoring under 20 points in eight games this season

Pitt returns home after securing a critical road win to play again on Friday, when the Panthers take part in the annual City Game against Duquesne at PPG Paints Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

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Panthers storm out to huge lead, hold off Terps’ rally for 73-59 win