Road loss wrinkles NCAA Tournament picture


Most analysts said Pitt would have to finish its season 3-0 to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. With a loss at Wake Forest on Sunday night, the Panthers will have to hope the analysts were wrong.

A couple of sloppy turnovers in the final minute of the game by junior guard James Robinson and sophomore guard Josh Newkirk cost Pitt late. The loss ensured that Pitt will now likely need a strong showing in the ACC Tournament next week to have a chance of  finishing on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Pitt (18-10, 8-8 ACC) couldn’t close out against Wake Forest (13-16, 5-11 ACC) on Sunday night and lost 69-66.

Sophomore forwards Michael Young and Jamel Artis led Pitt with 22 points and 19 points, respectively. But a strong second-half effort from junior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre guided the Demon Deacons to a win. He scored 13 points and chipped in a team-high seven rebounds and five assists.

While Pitt led for most of the second half, Wake Forest came on strong late in the game, as Miller-McIntyre stole the outgoing pass from sophomore forward Sheldon Jeter and made the game-tying jumper with 3:16 remaining in the game.

A few seconds later, Miller-McIntyre passed the ball to freshman forward Konstantinos Mitoglou, who hit a 3-pointer to give Wake Forest a three-point lead as part of an 11-1 run.

Pitt’s late turnovers doomed the team, and its minus-five differential throughout the game did not help. The Panthers also only managed eight points from their bench: four from sophomore guard Chris Jones and four from senior center Derrick Randall.

Randall provided uncharacteristic offensive production early on. With Wake Forest out to a 24-17 lead, Randall caught an offensive rebound and quickly brought the ball back in, getting fouled in the process to set up a three-point play.

One area that Pitt dominated in the game was offensive rebounding. Pitt grabbed 17 offensive boards, compared to Wake Forest’s five, leading to 10 more second-chance points than the home team.

Both teams shot the ball well from beyond the arc, combining to shoot 48 percent from long range.

Wake Forest made five of its first seven 3-pointers, helping the Demon Deacons take a 37-35 lead into halftime.

Pitt next plays Miami back at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the team’s Senior Night.