Pitt men’s basketball drops trap game against Notre Dame 88-81


AP Photo/Michael Caterina

Pittsburgh’s Blake Hinson (2) fouls Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski (14) during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in South Bend, Ind.

By Jack Markowski, Staff Writer

Pitt men’s basketball (21-9, 14-5 ACC) entered Wednesday night’s game coming off of a thrilling senior night victory that earned them a chance to clinch a share of the ACC regular-season title. Notre Dame (11-19, 3-16 ACC), on the other hand, was gearing up for their own senior night and what was likely the last home game for longtime head coach Mike Brey. 

The Panthers let the environment and emotions of the game impact their play, as they lost to the Fighting Irish 88-81. Pitt didn’t piece together a complete performance until the closing minutes, but the late game push wasn’t enough.

Junior forward Blake Hinson and graduate student guard Jamarius Burton shouldered the load early for Pitt, as they combined for the Panthers’ first 13 points. Notre Dame’s duo of graduate student guards in Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin came out firing as well, scoring a combined 13 points in the first four minutes of the half. 

The Panthers went cold halfway through the first-half, shooting one for eight from the field, which let Notre Dame capture a four-point lead. Pitt’s roster, outside of Hinson and Burton, shot just one of eight from the field in the first thirteen minutes of the half as well, which played a major role in the cold stretch. 

Both Pitt and Notre Dame kept the three-pointers flying in the first half, as each team attempted 15 of them with varying levels of success. The Panthers hit just three of their shots from behind the arc, while the Fighting Irish converted on seven of their attempts, which made the margin of error razor-thin for Pitt. 

The Panthers lack of ball movement in the first-half was uncharacteristic and resulted in a poor  offensive showing. They recorded just two assists and couldn’t find a flow or create high percentage looks for their shooters. 

Despite the early struggles, Pitt kept the game close for most of the first half. But an impassioned Fighting Irish squad went on an 11-0 run at the end of the half that pushed the Panthers’ lead to 14 points. 

After building momentum at the end of the first-half, Notre Dame entered the locker room with a 42-28 lead. Graduate student guard Marcus Hammond and Ryan led the Fighting Irish in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Meanwhile, Hinson paced the Panthers with nine points and seven rebounds on four of nine shooting. 

Pitt simply didn’t have an answer defensively for a pesky Notre Dame team with a lot on the line. The Fighting Irish shot 51.9% from the field during the first half, while the Panthers couldn’t halt their momentum.

Not much changed to start the second half. Pitt let a few scoring chances slip away early in the second half and couldn’t get much going in the ensuing minutes. Notre Dame focused on shutting down any perimeter opportunities for the Panthers and converted their strong defensive presence into points on the other end. 

The defensive effort paid off for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish battled to a 20-point lead at the 11:49 mark. The Panthers eventually played with more energy on the defensive end in the second half, but that didn’t stop Notre Dame from producing offensively. 

Pitt found success when pushing the ball inside late in the second half, but it was too little too late. The lack of perimeter shooting kept the Panthers out of the game and ensured that a late run wouldn’t happen. Pitt made four three-pointers during the second half after hitting just three in the first, which is a far cry from what is typically showcased by the Panthers.

The Panthers’ struggles from the free throw line didn’t do them any favors either. Despite being one of the conference’s most efficient teams from the charity stripe, the Panthers shot just 20 of 36 from the line and left an exorbitant amount of points on the line that they desperately needed. 

Pitt breathed a little bit of life into the game inside of three minutes left, as the team made it an 11-point contest. They later got it within five points on a Burton three with 38 seconds left, but Notre Dame eventually clinched an emotionally-charged victory. 

The Panthers’ ACC schedule continues with an away game against Miami on Saturday. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. and coverage will air on the ACC Network.