Sluggish start dooms Pitt basketball at Miami


Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Sophomore guard Trey McGowens (2) maneuvers the ball between Wake Forest’s Andrien White and Isaiah Mucius.

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor

Like most college students on a Sunday afternoon, Pitt experienced a potent hangover in Coral Gables. Fresh off a shocking comeback win over North Carolina on Tuesday, the Panthers fell flat against Miami.

Pitt (11-5 overall, 2-3 ACC) has now lost 23 of its last 24 ACC road contests after a 66-58 loss to the Miami Hurricanes (10-5 overall, 2-3 ACC). 

The Canes came out firing on their home court, jumping out to a 16-0 lead less than six minutes into the game. In addition to porous defense, the Panthers turned the ball over three times in their first six possessions to aid the Miami run. 

But the tide turned quickly on Florida’s southern coast. Pitt scored seven-straight points in 66 seconds to regain some life and used that spark to ignite a 18-2 run over 4:20 of game time to knot the contest at 18-all.

Sophomore guard Trey McGowens led the way with eight points, but Pitt’s defense — which held Miami to 1-7 shooting during the run — was the most essential aspect of the Panther comeback.

In keeping with Sunday’s “game of runs,” the Canes responded with a 13-4 run of their own over the half’s final 9:25. Miami entered the halftime intermission up nine, but wary of another Pitt run. 

The Hurricanes, in a futile attempt to finish a game before it was over, stretched their lead to 18 with just over five minutes of the second period having passed. Junior guard Chris Lykes and senior guard Dejan Vasiljevic scored six and five points, respectively over that span to power the run.

Pitt refused to back down. Junior guard Ryan Murphy, after scoring only two points in the first half, found some success as his team pushed back. His seven points were complemented by six from junior forward Terrell Brown, as well as smart playmaking from McGowens and fellow sophomore forward Au’Diese Toney on a 23-7 run that cut Miami’s lead to four with 5:23 left to play.

But the Panthers’ defense — a calling card of this year’s squad — was unable to come up with the stops necessary to win. The Hurricanes made tough shots, capitalizing on the Panthers’ poor shot selection to close out their second ACC win of the season.

McGowens turned in a complete effort with sophomore backcourt mate Xavier Johnson on the bench for a majority of the game. He recorded 18 points and seven assists to pace the Panthers. Brown was also steady off of the bench. His energy and defense earned him minutes during crunch time, in which he scored 10 points to go along with four rebounds.

For the Hurricanes, redshirt junior guard Kameron McGusty was an automatic shooter and rarely left the floor. His game-high 19 points were scored off of 67% shooting from the field and 43% from 3-point range. Vasiljevic and Lykes were the only other Hurricanes to score in double-figures.

The weary receive little rest as conference play continues. Pitt returns home for its next game, a Tuesday night tilt with No. 13 Louisville.

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