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Pitt Basketball

What Really Happened in 1906?



PITTSBURGH — Pitt suffered the program’s worst loss in nearly 111 years of basketball history on Tuesday, dropping a 106-51 decision to Louisville.

It eclipsed a 51-point loss to Wichita State in 1964 as the worst modern-era defeat for the Panthers — and it even is the worst defeat of the team known as the Panthers or the school known as the University of Pittsburgh.

The school moved from the North Side to Oakland in 1908 and at that point, changed its name from the Western University of Pennsylvania to the University of Pittsburgh and took the mascot of Panthers. Before that, the school’s athletic teams were simply known as the WUP’s.

The only thing standing in between this year’s team and outright history, though, was a 93-point loss to Westminster on Feb. 24, 1906. It almost seems as that game is some type of old tall tale, as the final score of 106-13 was a significant outlier. It would be nearly 50 years before another team scored over 100 points against Pitt. The two teams had played earlier in the season, and Westminster won 35-15 — hardly in the same realm.

So I set out to find out what exactly happened on that night in 1906 and if Pitt really lost by 93 points to the Titans.

According to the Feb. 25, 1906 edition of the The Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, the score is legit. Under the title “W.U.P is smothered by Westminster Five” an uncredited author — and a freelancer no less — described the action as such:

“Westminster’s basketball team defeated W.U.P. this afternoon in an utterly one-sided game by the score of 106 to 13 — the highest score ever made on the local floor. Calhoun began the scoring and the boys continued to keep the scorers busy. Elliott had 14 baskets to his credit, and Deevers 11 when it was all over. Capwell was the only one of the visitors who scored at all. At the end of the first half it stood 65 to 7. Westminster’s lineup was changed for the rest of the game, but W.U.P. was able to make no better showing.”

Incredibly, it is noted that the game was shortened by five minutes in the second half. Pitt’s media guide only goes back to the 1937 season for individual players, so for now, Mr. Capwell — the WUPs only scorer — remains further unidentified.

A link to the story can be found here as part of the archives of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

So, yes, the Western University of Pennsylvania really did lose to Westminster by 93 points in 1906, which makes Pitt’s loss to Louisville Tuesday just the second-worst beating in program history.

I doubt that gives this iteration of the Panthers any solace.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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