PITTSBURGH — Pitt finally got into the win column on Wednesday, with a 70-62 victory over UC Santa Barbara to improve to 1-2 on the young season.
Pitt was outplayed for much of the game by the Gauchos, who were playing without their starting point guard. And Pitt’s performance, in which they trailed for most of the game but toughened up down the stretch to pull out a victory, still fell short of the already lessened expectations for a young squad that played four or more freshman for more than 10 minutes for the third consecutive game.
The Panthers defense left a lot to be desired in the first half, when they were again allowing far too much dribble penetration and too many open 3-pointers. UCSB shot 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half as the Panthers struggled on defense.
They also got hammered on the glass, getting out-rebounded, 43-35 and also turned the ball over 12 times compared to 8 for the Gauchos. Those issues allowed UCSB to remain in the lead for a long time, even though the Panthers outshot them throughout.
In the second half, Pitt tightened things up, holding the Gauchos to 23.5 percent shooting and got some clutch plays late to turn the tide. Ryan Luther had a tip-in off a miss and an offensive rebound, Jared Wilson-Frame put down a big 3-pointer to give the Panthers a six-point lead and Parker Stewart hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
As a team, the Panthers shot 19 of 22 from the free-throw line, while UCSB was just 10 of 22.
Pitt had five players crack double digits in scoring, with Jonathan Milligan and Wilson-Frame each scoring 14, Luther 13, Stewart 12 and Shamiel Stevenson 11. Luther added 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double and the third of his career.