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What you may have missed: Winter break rundown - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

What you may have missed: Winter break rundown

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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Students are just returning from break, about to begin the spring semester, but Pitt varsity sports have continued to compete during the intermission. Men’s and women’s basketball played a handful of home games each, preparing for the upcoming ACC schedule. The football team played its last game of the 2014-2015 season in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Here’s a rundown of how Pitt sports fared over the break:

Men’s basketball

Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon helped get his team back in the win column with the remainder of its non-conference schedule, but that momentum didn’t help the team when it faced North Carolina State on Saturday. Before that, the Panthers won their previous five games, defeating St. Bonaventure (58-54), Manhattan (65-56), Oakland (81-77), Holy Cross (58-39) and Florida Gulf Coast (71-54).

After that, however, the team dropped its ACC opener at NC State 68-50. The five-game stretch helped senior Cameron Wright work his way back into the lineup after recovering from surgery on a broken foot. Still, Pitt will want to establish itself in this year’s ACC by handling Boston College on Tuesday.

Women’s basketball

The women’s team also had a five-game stretch of home wins over the break to tune up for the ACC. Its wins came against Drexel (72-53), Ball State (59-47), Youngstown State (78-52), Saint Francis (97-59) and Delaware State (93-58). Like the men’s team, however, that momentum didn’t help defeat No. 8 Louisville on Sunday. The Panthers played the Cardinals close, with the game coming down to the final minute, but Louisville made its free throws and put Pitt away.

The game would have been a milestone win for head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, but the team already has a 10-4 record compared to an 11-20 finish from last year’s team. Through 14 games last season, Pitt had an 8-6 record. It doesn’t get any easier for Pitt though, as two of its next four games come against ranked teams North Carolina and Syracuse.

Football

Pitt finished its 2014-2015 campaign with interim head coach Joe Rudolph in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2. Rudolph and the Panthers seemed to be in control, leading 31-6 in the fourth quarter. But Houston and its quarterback Greg Ward Jr. staged a monumental comeback, including two successful onside kicks in the final quarter. The 25-point deficit marked the largest fourth-quarter deficit that a team ended up winning in bowl history.

Former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will take over Pitt and begin coaching games next season, beginning with Youngstown State on Sept. 5. Rudolph, Pitt’s offensive coordinator, may or may not retain that role next season, as Narduzzi selects the assistants he wants on staff.

Wrestling

Redshirt seniors Max Thomusseit and Tyler Wilps each placed in the top four at the Southern Scuffle competition on Jan. 1-2. Thomusseit finished second, losing to No. 7 Gabe Dean of Cornell, and Wilps — wrestling in his first match of the year — lost to No. 4 Matt Brown of Penn State. Pitt, as a team, finished in eighth place.

The loss to Dean was Thomusseit’s first of the season, as the No. 1 wrestler at the 184-pound class is now 14-1 in the season. Pitt next competes in Pitt Duals on Jan. 11 against North Carolina, Duke and Drexel.

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What you may have missed: Winter break rundown