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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
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By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Pitt men’s basketball defeats Wake Forest despite slow first half

First-year+guard+Carlton+Bub+Carrington+%287%29+looks+for+a+play+during+Wednesday+nights+game+against+Wake+Forest+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.+
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
First-year guard Carlton “Bub” Carrington (7) looks for a play during Wednesday night’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.

Losing their last three games at home by double-digits, Pitt men’s basketball (13-8, 4-6 ACC) hoped to end that streak against Wake Forest (13-7, 5-4 ACC). A win would fix their woes at home and give a huge boost to their tournament resume. And the Panthers did exactly that, beating the Demon Deacons 77-72. 

It was a three-headed monster for Pitt as three separate Panthers scored 17 or more points.

First-year guard Carlton “Bub” Carrington scored 24 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished four assists. Senior forward Blake Hinson added 17 points and junior guard Ishmael Leggett added 22 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Leggett accredited the Panthers’ second-half comeback, which was led by the trio, to their connectedness as a team.

“We’re just a connected group,” Leggett said. “Honestly, like we came in at halftime, we addressed things that needed to be done and we went on to execute them.”

The Demon Deacons started the night on fire from three-point range hitting their first three shots from behind the arc. But that was expected for Wake Forest, as they are second in the ACC in three-point percentage.

Pitt, unlike past home games, responded to Wake Forest’s hot start. Carrington made the Oakland Zoo launch newspaper confetti as he scored the first two points for the Panthers. More notably, Hinson made a nasty spin move against junior forward Cameron Hildreth to create space for a wide-open three-pointer.

Despite Hinson’s three, the Panthers still trailed 15-12 with 13:12 remaining in the second half. After the media timeout, both teams played lockdown defense for the next few possessions. 

The Demon Deacons figured out their momentary offensive struggles after the timeout by getting to the free-throw line and making shots from the paint. The Panthers, however, still struggled. The Panthers failed to score until Leggett made a much-needed three-pointer with 8:17 remaining in the first half.

In previous home games, this is where the Panthers took themselves out of games. Trailing 22-15, the Panthers figured it out by going on a 12-8 run and got a spark from the Petersen Events Center crowd.

Leggett was the catalyst for the Panthers as he accounted for eight of the 12 points the Panthers scored. He made an open three-pointer after freeing himself with a jab step, found a wide-open Carrington for a three-pointer and made a contested mid-range jump shot. The junior guards’ run helped the Panthers cut their deficit to three.

Trailing 30-27, Wake Forest redshirt sophomore guard Boopi Miller and the Demon Deacon defense took the energy out of the Petersen Events Center, by going on a 7-0 run to close out the first half. 

Another troubling scoring half plagued the Panthers. Pitt shot 37% from the field in the first half. Meanwhile, Wake Forest shot 53.8%.

Hinson started the second half on a mission, making great passes, playing great defense and driving to the rim with force, which earned him an and-one layup.

Along with Hinson, the Panthers played more aggressively as a unit than the Demon Deacons to start the second half. They frustrated the Wake Forest offense, forcing multiple turnovers and grabbing multiple offensive rebounds that allowed Leggett to make a contested layup.

The Panthers’ aggression allowed them to go on a 12-7 run to start the second half. Hinson hit a step-back three-point jumper with the shot clock expiring, which lit up the crowd. Hinson’s three-pointer cut the Demon Deacons’ lead to 46-44.

Unlike the first half, the Panthers’ offense rarely struggled. They made two clutch three-point shots and got to the line multiple times. This helped them tie the game at 55-55 with 7:56 left in regulation. 

The Panthers struggled to contain junior center Efton Reid on the post causing head coach Jeff Capel to make a switch that gave the Panthers a huge boost. He subbed out junior center Federiko Federiko for redshirt junior forward Will Jeffress.

Pitt stifled the Wake Forest offense in the second half, only allowing two baskets for the Demon Deacons from the 7:56 mark to the 2:58 mark. The Panthers’ offense, led by Leggett and Carrington, got the Panthers out to a 64-59 advantage with 2:58 left in regulation.

Jeffress ignited the Petersen Events Center crowd to maybe its loudest roar all year with a monstrous dunk. And the Panthers only added on this momentum by getting stop after stop and continuously scoring on the distraught Demon Deacons, eventually extending their lead to 10 with 1:07 remaining. 

Capel applauded Jeffress’ ability to affect the game at a moment’s notice.

“I’m really proud of him for staying ready,” Capel said. “Will’s a guy that shows up every day to practice, he has an unbelievable attitude. He’s an unbelievable teammate. And he was just ready.”

In the final 1:07, Wake Forest put a little scare to Pitt as they cut the lead to five with 16.4 remaining, but two free throws by Carrington officially put the game out of reach.

Carrington attributes his dominance at the end of the game to his toughness.

“I wouldn’t lie to you and say I run,” Carrington said. “I didn’t want to come out. So it’s like I can’t show the coach that I’m tired or anything. You know, just keep fighting.”

The win at home in front of the Oakland Zoo was most important to Carrington.

“We got an amazing student section,” Carrington said. “And to come out there and actually perform for them it feels amazing because they’re always going to be cheering for us.”

The Panthers return to action Saturday at 6 p.m. against Notre Dame.

About the Contributor
Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer