The Pitt News

Late push leads Panthers to comeback win over Oakland

By Dan Sostek / Assistant Sports Editor

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After seven ties and 23 lead changes, the Pittsburgh Panthers’ men’s basketball team was able to escape the Petersen Events Center with an 81-77 overtime victory over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon.

Taking on an Oakland team that going into the contest had allowed an average of 79.9 points per game, Pitt settled for jump shots early on, with five of their first six shots being jumpers.

Pitt took the lead with 8:51 remaining in the first half following a layup by sophomore forward Jamel Artis, but would trail for the remainder of the period after Oakland center Corey Petros nailed a jumper to give the his team a 16-15 lead.

Despite the Golden Grizzlies extending their lead to as large as eight, Pitt was able to head into the locker room with a sense of momentum, as sophomore big man Michael Young drained a corner jumper off of a long heave by Chris Jones as the first half buzzer sounded, and the Panthers headed into intermission trailing by just one. 

The lead went back and forth to start the second half, as there were 14 lead changes within the first 11 minutes of action. 

But after senior guard Cam Wright was able to even up the score at 61 with a jumper with 8:45 remaining in regulation, Oakland went on a 7-0 run, holding a 68-61 lead over Pitt with 5:51 remaining in the game.

The Panthers responded with a 7-0 run of their own, punctuated by a James Robinson three-point play that knotted the score up at 70 apiece with 3:17 left.

“We just kept fighting,” Robinson said. “We knew we would be able to get back in the game.”

Despite the big basket, Robinson cited another play during the run as a pivotal moment. With 3:32 remaining, after Oakland had broken Pitt’s full court press, Young was able to slide in and draw a charge on the Golden Grizzlies’ Jalen Hayes. 

“I thought the play of the game was Mike’s charge,” the junior point guard said. “That really swung the momentum in our favor.”

After Pitt and Oakland traded a pair of free throws in the final minutes of play, the Panthers had the ball with just over 20 seconds remaining in the game. But Wright would miss an open jump shot at the buzzer, sending the contest into overtime.

After winning the tip, the Panthers never trailed in the extra period, as made baskets by Young and Wright and key free throws converted by Robinson and Chris Jones helped Pitt eke out the 81-77 victory.

Young led all Pitt scorers with 19 points, while also adding seven rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

Oakland was led by guard Kahlil Felder, who posted 23 points, seven assists and four rebounds, while their leading scorer Petros was held to eight points on 4-11 shooting.

Robinson was key as well for the Panthers, scoring 18 points while going 8-8 from the free throw line, and Oakland head coach Greg Kampe was quick to praise the three-year starter.

“He’s crafty with the ball and has great penetration,” Kampe said. “He’s really good, and he was as a freshman two years ago [when Oakland last played Pitt]”

Jones and Wright also reached double figures for Pitt, both scoring 16 points. 

Despite the win, Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon wasn’t overly pleased with his team’s output.

“I didn’t feel great about how we performed,” Dixon said. “Obviously we are not satisfied with our defense and our rebounding… We have to get it addressed.”

With the victory, the Panthers improved to 8-3 on the season, with only two more non-conference games slated before their ACC schedule begins.

The team’s next contest is on Tuesday evening, as they will face the Holy Cross Crusaders (5-3) at the Petersen Events Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm. 

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Late push leads Panthers to comeback win over Oakland