Pitt avoids upset, defeats Virginia Tech in double-overtime

By Nate Barnes | Sports Editor

The last time Pitt played back-to-back overtime games was in January of 1998, when the Panthers defeated Rutgers Jan. 17 then lost to St. John’s Jan. 22. 

16 years later, Pitt nearly found itself with the same result facing a four-point deficit with 48 seconds to play, following a overtime win at Miami Wednesday.

Cameron Wright then found James Robinson the corner who was fouled on a successful 3-point attempt. Robinson made the ensuing free throw to tie the game which eventually went to two overtimes before Pitt won, 62-57.

“Cam just did a good job driving the ball, attacking, then he found me in the corner,” Robinson said. “I was able to make a play for our team.”

The No. 25 Panthers (20-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) reached the 20-win plateau for the 13th consecutive season Saturday, but nearly fell to the ACC’s worst team. 

On the other side, Virginia Tech (8-15, 1-10 ACC) walked out of one of the nation’s most difficult arenas for visiting teams with a signature upset victory. The Hokies out-rebounded Pitt 43-28, but also turned the ball over 20 times and shot just 32.1 percent from the field. 

“I thought that was a tough, hard-fought, ACC battle right there,” Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson said. “Exhausting.”

The overtime period featured just one made field goal, as the teams combined to shoot 1-for-19 in the 10 extra minutes necessary to decide Saturday’s game. Instead, the game was decided at the free throw line where Pitt shot 12-for-16 against Virginia Tech’s 9-of-10 mark. 

“It’s good to see that, we’ve done that two games in a row,” Dixon said. “We hadn’t done that in a couple losses.”

Wright and Robinson led the Panthers to victory with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Robinson’s scoring day tied a career-high. 

“I think I just shot the ball when I thought I was open,” Robinson said. “I still made plays for others when I thought they were in a better position to score.”

Besides Robinson’s four-point play, the afternoon’s signature play came minutes earlier when Cam Wright knifed through multiple Hokies to a loose ball that left him standing on top of the scorers’ table. As a result of his hustle, Josh Newkirk had a wide open lane to the basket for a dunk. 

“It definitely gave us a boost,” Newkirk said. “It had us up and ready to play.”

Newkirk added 11 points off the bench to tie a career-high.

Wright and Robinson’s performances were necessary as Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna were each ineffective in over 40 minutes of action. 

Patterson appeared to be limited by an injury that left his right hand swollen and nearly useless, while Zanna struggled against Virginia Tech’s sizable interior featuring the 6-foot-10 Joey van Zegeren and 6-foot-11 Trevor Thompson. 

Patterson finished with just five points on 1-of-9 shooting while Zanna scored seven points and recorded a team-high seven rebounds.

For the Hokies, Jarell Eddie made five 3-pointers and scored 15 points but needed 13 shot attempts to do so. VanZegeren added 10, as did McKees Rocks, Pa., native Devin Wilson.