Panthers fall to Irish in ACC tournament, finish 0-19 in ACC

For the second time in two weeks, the Pitt men’s basketball team made history in a loss to Notre Dame. The Panthers became the seventh team in history to go winless in the ACC after a losing to the Irish last week. They followed that up with a 67-64 loss to the Irish in the ACC tournament to become just the second team in ACC history to go 0-19 in the conference.

The Panthers (8-24 overall, 0-19 ACC) finished the year with eight wins which is their lowest total since the 1976-77 season when they won just six games. With the victory, the Fighting Irish (19-13 overall, 9-10 ACC) move on to play NC State in the second round of the tournament.

Notre Dame started the first half in dominant fashion, scoring the first seven points of the game and forcing Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings to call a timeout with 17:33 left in the first. The early Notre Dame run was sparked by junior guard Rex Pflueger and senior guard Matt Farrell who each hit a 3-pointer in the first two and a half minutes.

The Panthers countered with two quick threes of their own after the timeout. Junior guard/forward Jared Wilson-Frame and first-year guard Parker Stewart each hit a three over the next three minutes. Stewart’s three tied the game 10-10 with 14:41 left in the half.

The Panthers hung tight with the Irish for the better part of the first half. First-year forward Shamiel Stevenson hit a layup with 8:30 left in the half to cut the Notre Dame lead to 21-17.

Following Stevenson’s bucket, the Panthers failed to make another field goal over the next six minutes. The Irish went on a 10-1 run over that time, increasing their lead to 31-18 with three minutes left in the half.

A jumper by redshirt senior guard Jonathan Milligan ended the Panther drought and made the score 31-20 with just 2:26 left in the half.

The two teams traded buckets over the last two minutes and Notre Dame went into halftime holding a 36-24 lead.

Notre Dame was unable to pull away from Pitt in the second half as Pitt’s defensive effort held Notre Dame in check. The Irish went just 1-10 from the field over the first seven minutes of the second half.

The Panthers used that slow start to cut into the halftime deficit. The Irish led just 42-34 with 11:30 left to play.

An 11-6 Pitt run would cut that lead to just three with nine minutes left in the half. Stewart once again gave the Panthers life from 3-point territory, hitting two more from deep during the Panthers run. His corner three with nine minutes left cut the Irish lead to 48-45.

Farrell and senior forward Bonzie Colson led the counter attack for Notre Dame following Pitt’s run. The two combined for 10 of the Irish’s next 12 points to give the Irish a 60-50 lead with just 3:09 remaining in the game.

With less than three minutes left in the game, the Panthers put together perhaps their most inspired offensive run of the season.

After a layup from Milligan, Wilson-Frame nailed two long threes on back to back possessions to bring the Panthers within three, 61-58, with just 1:39 remaining.

Irish sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs hit two free throws on the ensuing possession. With time running out in the game and season, Pitt first-year guard Marcus Carr hit another deep three to cut Notre Dame’s lead to just two with 48 seconds left.

The run would end there as the Irish made four free throws on their next two possessions to ice the game. Stewart hit another three for the Panthers as time expired, but it was all for naught as the Irish won 67-64.

The three-point loss was the smallest deficit that Pitt has lost by in an ACC game this year.