SYRACUSE, N.Y — After a disastrous first half, Pitt’s comeback bid fell just short on Saturday, as the Panthers dropped a 69-61 decision to the rival Syracuse Orange at Carrier Dome.
The Panthers got the Syracuse lead to as low as three points in the waning moments of the game, but the Orange made all its free throws down the stretch and Pitt’s chance at a victory ended with a Joseph Girard steal from Ryan Murphy with less than 10 seconds to play.
Pitt’s offensive game plan against the Syracuse Orange zone on Saturday involved a heavy dose of freshman wing Justin Champagnie directing the offense from the top of the key.
Instead, Champagnie was in foul trouble two minutes into the game and the Orange used a 15-2 run with him out of the game to build a first-half lead margin that it never fully relinquished.
Orange guard Buddy Boeheim led the Syracuse charge, scoring 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including a 4-for-8 mark from 3-point range.
Champagnie came through to lead Pitt with 14 points despite playing in just 25 minutes. He also had eight rebounds to lead Pitt. Terrell Brown followed up with 11 points.
Both of them did most of their scoring in the paint, as Pitt’s outside shooting was a mess all afternoon against the Orange zone for most of the game. They shot 23.1% from the floor in the first half before a stronger finish gave them a respectable 38.9% mark overall.
The loss to the Orange snaps a two-game winning streak for the Panthers and drops them to 4-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference play and 13-7 overall. The Panthers will stay on the road to visit No. 8 Duke on Tuesday.