PITTSBURGH — What appeared to be a competitive battle in the 187th playing of the Backyard Brawl quickly degenerated into a rout as Pitt completely fell apart in the second half and dropped a 68-53 decision to West Virginia at Petersen Events Center on Friday.
The Panthers and Mountaineers were separated by just one point at the half-time break after a hard-fought opening period full of fouls and generally limited offensive opportunities.
In the second half, Pitt couldn’t get anything going on offense at all. The Panthers shot 3 of 25 in the second half. Two makes were on dunks, meaning the Panthers made just one shot from the floor.
For the game, the Panthers hit just 16 of 53 for 30.2 percent after shooting 42 percent from the floor in their first three games of the season.
In either half, Pitt had no answer for freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe. The Kennedy Catholic (Hermitage, Pa.) alum had a double-double before halftime and finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.
Not helping matters were foul trouble for Pitt’s bigs from the get-go. Terrell Brown and Eric Hamilton played a combined 7:51 of the first half, with Abdoul Karim Coulibaly and Samson George pressed into duty.
In the second half, the presence of Brown and Hamilton failed to lift the Panthers. They combined fo just four points on 1 of 7 from the floor.
Pitt was led offensively by its off-ball guards, as Trey McGowens had 13 points, Justin Champagnie 12 and Ryan Murphy 11. Xavier Johnson continued his quiet 2019-20 season with four points and five assists in 29 minutes.
Pitt, now 2-2, will next host Monmouth on Monday at Petersen Events Center. That game has a 7 p.m. tipoff.