PITTSBURGH – After an 18-point loss to Louisville in early December, Pitt did everything it could Tuesday night to prove that a whole lot can improve for a young team in a month’s time.
Well, except finish.
This time around, Pitt stumbled down the stretch to fall to No. 11 Louisville, 73-68, in overtime at the Petersen Events Center. In a game that left the Panthers (11-6, 2-4) wondering all that could have been, Louisville (14-3, 5-1) closed the second half on a 7-0 run to force overtime and outscored the home team, 12-7, in the extra period to ultimately escape.
Pitt held a lead for 33 of a possible 40 minutes in regulation and remained in control throughout most of the second half until the Cardinals cut the deficit to two (56-54) with four minutes left. At the 1:08 mark, David Johnson’s free throw tied the game, 61-61, before Trey McGowens missed a 3-point attempt on the other end that would have won it.
With 23 seconds left in OT, Terrell Brown tipped in a second-chance layup that would have tied the game at 70, but instead was called for a questionable offensive foul that negated the bucket. Louisville hit both free throws on the other end to put the game out of reach.
Pitt began the game on a perfect 4-for-4 mark from beyond the arc with 3s from Ryan Murphy (2), Justin Champagnie (1) and McGowens (1). With 12 minutes left in the first half, Pitt then used a 7-0 run to amount a 24-15 lead as Louisville missed seven straight shots on a 3:21 scoring drought. But a subsequent four-minute drought for the home team, its sixth in seven games, allowed the Cardinals to climb back and tie the score at 26. After a pair of lead changes, the Panthers stretched a three-point advantage into halftime thanks, in large part, to Louisville shooting 33 percent (10-30) from the field.
Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton led Louisville with 14 points and 13 points, respectively. McGowens finished with 24 points on 8-for-22 shooting. Champagnie added 11 points and 11 rebounds while Xavier Johnson ended with 11 points and five assists. The Panthers shot a collective 38 percent (21-56), including 37 percent (7-19) from beyond the arc, and outrebounded the Cardinals, 39-37.
After consecutive losses to Miami and now Louisville, Pitt looks next to a home contest with North Carolina on Jan. 18.