Winter sports recap: Men’s basketball, wrestling off to strong starts


AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Clemson forward RJ Godfrey, center, can’t get a shot off as Pittsburgh guard Nike Sibande (22) and Guillermo Diaz Graham (25) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. Clemson won 75-74.

By Richie Smiechowski, Sports Editor

While most Pitt students spent the winter break recovering from their final exams and enjoying the holiday season, the Panthers continued their respective seasons. With plenty of time left for the winter sports calendar, here’s how the athletic department fared over the last few weeks. 

Men’s Basketball 

To the delight of Pitt’s diehard basketball fanbase, the team excelled over the winter break and is off to a stellar start to their ACC campaign. The Panthers are currently 11-5 on the season and 4-1 in ACC play, good enough for second in the conference. 

Since Nov. 20, the Panthers are 10-2, and over the break they scored massive wins against No. 25 UNC and No. 12 UVA, propelling them to a tie for first in the ACC. On Sunday, their winning streak came to an end after losing to Clemson at home for their first conference loss. 

So far this season, a number of players are excelling for the Panthers. Senior guard Jamarius Burton logged a career game against UNC, tallying 31 points on 82.4% shooting. Burton’s performance earned him ACC co-player of the week honors and NCAA March Madness national player of the week honors. 

Transfer junior forward Blake Hinson is also off to a hot start this season, averaging 16.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game this season. He had 25 in the Panthers’ victory against Syracuse. 

The Panthers’ 4-0 start in ACC play is their best start in conference since the 2015-16 season — the last year Pitt made the NCAA tourney. Their next conference test is against Duke on Wednesday in Durham.
Women’s Basketball

While the men’s team saw massive success over the break, the women’s basketball team had a December to forget. Since Dec. 11, the Panthers are 1-6 overall and have struggled in ACC play, starting the year 0-5.

Following a heartbreaking 68-66 overtime loss to Ball State at home, Louisville trounced the already reeling Panthers 77-53 at home. Pitt got their only win of the break at home against North Alabama on Dec. 21 and have dropped four consecutive in ACC play since. 

So far this season, the Panthers have yet to beat a power five opponent. One bright spot from the roster is the emergence of junior forward Liatu King, who leads the team in points, rebounds and assists per game. Fifth-year head coach Lance White is now 8-64 in ACC play at the helm of the program.

No. 21 Pitt wrestling is off to a very solid start to the 2022-23 campaign. The Panthers are 5-2 with a win against No. 13 Lehigh and a second place finish in the 115 team Midlands Championships. They’re the third highest-ranked team in the ACC behind NC State and Virginia Tech. 

Despite their strong start, the Panthers hit a speedbump against rival West Virginia on Sunday, dropping their second match of the season, 24-11. No. 1 wrestler in the 141 pound division junior Cole Matthews dropped his first bout of the season against WVU, while No. 9 Senior Micky Phillippi won his contest. No. 8 Nino Bonaccorsi also won his matchup, but close third period losses in several other matches spelled defeat for the Panthers.  

Prior to their loss against West Virginia, the Panthers swept their Ivy League slate, beating both Brown and Columbia on the road. Pitt looks to bounce back against Buffalo at home on Friday. 


Pitt gymnastics is just one match into the winter calendar, but they looked dominant in their sole contest, beating Penn, Temple and Penn State in the Keystone Classic at Fitzgerald Field House. 

The team shined brightest in vault with four Panthers setting new personal records and jumping out to an early lead against their opponents. Sophomore Sidney Washington set the bar with a 9.875 in the event. 

Later, the Panthers scored 48.975 in beam, which was again the highest of all three teams. First-year Reyna Garvey was stellar in her debut, earning a 9.950. With a sizable lead, Pitt went into the floor section confident and finished strong, scoring 195.950 total and securing victory. It’s the Panthers’ largest home opening score in program history. 

The Panthers will look to build off their strong start at the Wasatch Classic in Salt Lake City on Saturday.