It took the Panthers more than 10 minutes into the second half to score a field goal, a disastrous drought that was too much to overcome as Pitt men’s basketball dropped its season opener to Navy.
Pitt fell to the Navy Midshipmen 71-62 Friday night in the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland — Navy’s first win against an ACC opponent since 1971 and Pitt’s first opener loss since 1996. The Panthers shot 32 percent in the second half and underperformed at the foul line, shooting 53.3 percent. The shooting woes proved too difficult to overcome.
Pitt won the opening tip and junior forward Jared Wilson-Frame got off to a hot start by sinking a deep 3-pointer. Wilson-Frame continued his stellar start in Division I basketball by draining another three the very next possession.
Though Wilson-Frame helped the Panthers get off to a quick start, Navy’s veteran squad proved to be a tough task for Pitt early on, going on a 10-2 run midway through the first half to take a 17-9 lead.
First-year guard Marcus Carr answered Navy’s run with two consecutive threes to pull Pitt within two with 12:01 left in the first half.
Carr continued his stellar first half play when he found Terrell Brown with a cross-court outlet pass that led to a layup and a foul.
Pitt struggled to keep up with Navy’s quick ball movement in the first half, allowing 13 assists on 15 made field goals. The Midshipmen jumped out to a seven-point lead with 2:15 left in the half after a 3-pointer from senior guard Bryce Dulin.
Wilson-Frame and Carr were not to be denied in their first half of Pitt basketball, though. The duo kept the Panthers in the game, scoring 13 points and 12 points, respectively.
After being fouled on a 3-point attempt by junior guard Hasan Abdullah, Carr was ice-cold from the line, draining all three of his foul shots. This cut the deficit from seven points to four.
Dulin missed a layup on the next possession, and Panthers senior forward Ryan Luther made a jumper to cut Navy’s lead to two with 1:23 left in the half. Navy answered right back with a layup from senior guard Nourse Fox, extending their lead to 39-35.
Wilson-Frame closed out the half for Pitt by drilling his third 3-pointer in the half. Pitt went into the half trailing 39-38.
The Panthers started off the second half poorly, giving up two threes and heaving up two air balls. Pitt fell behind 45-39 with 16:57 left in the half.
There seemed to be a lid on the basket in the early part of the second half for Pitt as the Panthers didn’t make a field goal until first-year forward Shamiel Stevenson made a layup with 9:41 left in the half.
Stevenson’s layup ignited an 8-0 run for Pitt, and the Panthers closed the deficit to seven points, trailing the Midshipmen 56-49 with 7:03 left in the game.
Luther added to Pitt’s run with a ferocious dunk following a missed layup from Wilson-Frame to cut Navy’s lead to five points.
The comeback attempt wasn’t enough, though. Navy held serve over the last five minutes, draining their free throws and making timely shots. The Midshipmen outscored Pitt 15-11 following Luther’s dunk, and the game finished with the score 71-62 in Navy’s favor.
Pitt will return home Monday, Nov. 13, to take on the Montana Grizzlies in the Legends Classic at the Petersen Events Center — the first home game of the season.