PITTSBURGH — You can’t ever count Pitt out, but the Panthers’ penchant for needing to battle back in games might finally be catching up to them.
Pitt had two looks at a game-winning shot on the final possession of Wednesday’s game against NC State, but neither Au’Diese Toney nor Justin Champagnie could find the target as Pitt fell, 74-73 to NC State.
The loss was the sixth in seven games for the Panthers and drops them to 9-8 on the season and 5-7 in ACC play.
The Panthers fell behind by 10 points in the first half, before charging back thanks to a strong offensive performance from Au’Diese Toney, who finished with 17 points. He equalled NC State star Jericole Hellems, who had 17 to lead the Pack.
The Panthers’ situation looked bleak after a Champagnie turnover late — the team’s 14th — gave NC State the ball back with the lead. But after Champagnie hit two free throws, a State travel gave Pitt the ball back with a chance to win it late.
Champagnie had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night, finishing 3 of 11 from the floor, but still was able to score 18 points by going 11 of 16 from the free-throw line.
Xavier Johnson added 14 points, but for the second straight game, Johnson was limited by foul trouble, with a technical playing a large role. After being called for a hook and hold against Georgia Tech in a play that sat him down for an extended stretch, Johnson received a technical foul in the first half against NC State after gesturing and yelling toward the NC State after making a 3-point shot.
Johnson earned his fourth foul with 8:3o to play and saw the floor for 19XX minutes after playing just 20 minutes against the Yellow Jackets and Jeff Capel specifically saying that his starting point guard needed to be on the floor more than that.
Johnson’s backup, Femi Odukale was also limited, as he collected his third foul while being assessed a technical foul in a tie up with NC State’s Hellems. Odukale suffered a left leg injury on the play and missed time while in the Pitt locker room for treatment, but was able to return.
Up next, Pitt will host No. 16 Florida State on Saturday. That game has a 4 p.m. tip. Pitt was scheduled to face Clemson on Sunday, but that game has been postponed.