PITTSBURGH — Coming off of a nine-day game less stretch, Pitt showed the sloppy play that comes with that against Northern Illinois in their 59-50 victory on Monday night.
The Panthers wore down the Huskies and went on a 15-0 run over the final 6:11 to end the game on their way to their sixth win in their last seven games.
They didn’t get on the board until nearly three minutes into the game, and the sluggish play and lack of energy was apparent from that point until those final six minutes and change.
Head coach Jeff Capel called a timeout with 8:16 left in the first half with his team trailing the Huskies 17-13. Pitt started 0-of-8 from the 3-point line and 6-of-24 from the field with under six minutes left in the first half. NIU led by as many as six points in the first half and connected on 6-of-15 3-point attempts to take a 30-29 lead into the break.
Sophomore Au’Diese Toney replaced Trey McGowens in the starting lineup. McGowens came off the bench and impressed early on, as he started 3-of-3 from the field.
McGowens and backcourt mate Xavier Johnson led Pitt in the scoring department with nine points apiece in the first half.
Eugene German led Northern Illinois at the half with 13 points. He made three 3-pointers, all of which were well behind the line and with a defender in his face.
Early on in the second half, Pitt showed to have no answer for handling German on the perimeter. Pitt head coach Jeff Capel switched his defense to a match up zone midway through the half and limited German and the Huskies for the remainder of the contest.
The Huskies led 46-39 with just under nine minutes to play in the game when McGowens hit one of his four triples, and the crowd finally showed some life. Junior Ryan Murphy then knocked down a corner jumper, and the lead was back to just two points.
McGowens led Pitt with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and Johnson was held to just two points in the second half and finished the game with 11 and three assists. Forward Eric Hamilton rallied the Panthers down the stretch and found himself in double-digits with 10 points.
German finished with 18 points and three assists for the Huskies.
Pitt (8-3, 1-1 ACC) will be back in action at Petersen Events Center against Binghamton (5-5) from the American East Conference on Friday, Dec. 20, at 7:00 p.m.