Panthers end losing streak behind Zanna’s 21 points

Panthers end losing streak behind Zannas 21 points

By Nate Barnes | Sports Editor

The Pittsburgh Panthers traveled to Chestnut Hill, Mass., Wednesday needing a victory to end their three-game losing streak with four games remaining in the season and their NCAA Tournament hopes possibly fading. Against Boston College, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s last-place team, the Panthers left Silvio O. Conte Forum with a seven-point win behind superb performances by seniors Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson.

Zanna scored 21 points and pulled down six rebounds while Patterson scored 16 to get the Panthers (21-7, 9-6 ACC) back on track with a 66-59 victory at Boston College (7-21, 3-12 ACC). 

The night was a historic one for the redshirt senior center from Kaduna, Nigeria, as he reached the 1,000-point plateau in the final minute when he made a free throw with 15 seconds to play. 

Olivier Hanlan scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead Boston College, his 10th game this year scoring 20 or more. Patrick Heckmann scored 15 points, while Ryan Anderson posted 10 points and five rebounds. 

Boston College got off to a quick start in the first two minutes of the game thanks to three Pitt turnovers and led 7-2 with 17:44 to play in the first half. Pitt’s issues taking care of the ball plagued the Panthers throughout the game as 17 of their turnovers resulted in 22 Boston College points. 

Pitt then used a 17-4 run to take a 19-11 lead minutes later after eight early points from Patterson. The Panthers extended their advantage to as much as 15 points in the first half with a 12-0 run and another 7-0 spurt. 

Pitt’s major advantage in the first half came on the boards, as the team outrebounded the Eagles 16-7 in the game’s first 20 minutes. Pitt dominated the offensive glass, as the Panthers pulled down nine rebounds after their own missed shots, which out-numbered the Eagles’ seven total rebounds. 

With many opportunities for second-chance points, Pitt built a double-digit lead in the first half.

But Hanlan kept his team from being blown out in the frame by scoring 14 points in the first half. Hanlan made a pair of mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer on the Eagles’ final possession of the half to bring Boston College within nine points, 35-26. 

Aside from Hanlan, the rest of the Eagles on the floor scored 12 points on 5-of-14 (35.7 percent) shooting. The sophomore guard’s shot-making ability (6-of-9) pulled his team up to 47.8 percent for the frame. 

Opposite Hanlan, the Panthers built their lead with a balanced attack. Talib Zanna scored nine points, Patterson and Cameron Wright each scored eight and Jamel Artis added seven off the bench. The Panthers collectively shot 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) in the first half. 

Patterson in particular had one of his better shooting nights, after he entered the contest having shot just 31 percent from the field in his previous seven games. But the redshirt senior from Lancaster, Pa., knocked down four of seven 3-point attempts and shot 5-of-12 (41.6 percent) from the field overall. 

He added a team-high five assists to his performance and recorded five rebounds. 

Out of the halftime break, Pitt quickly extended the lead back to double digits when Michael Young made a layup and Patterson nailed a triple on the next trip down to go up 40-26. 

The Eagles then outscored the Panthers 19-9 over the next 10 minutes — which included an 8-0 Boston College run — to pull within four points after Hanlan made a pair of free throws with 8:51 to play.  

From there, the Panthers controlled the action down the stretch by never letting Boston College come any closer. Zanna scored six of the team’s final seven points in the last 2:13 to secure Pitt’s victory.