PITTSBURGH — As cheers of “Let’s Go Pitt” rang out in the Petersen Events Center late Tuesday night, Pitt sealed its fifth-straight victory, this time coming in comeback fashion over No. 11 Virginia, 68-65.
Pitt’s veterans Nelly Cummings, Jamarius Burton and Nike Sibande hit all six of their free-throw attempts in the final minute to clinch the victory and a 4-0 start for the Panthers in the ACC.
Trailing by 12 with 16 minutes to go, Pitt’s hopes at that fifth-straight win seemed doomed.
Tony Bennett’s pack line defense suffocated the Panthers throughout the entire first half. Virginia was taking care of the ball and hitting its shots. Pitt was not. The ‘Hoos were playing peak Virginia basketball, and Pitt could not escape.
However, kickstarted by a Sibande three pointer, the Panthers exploded for a 14-0 run to take the lead. Blake Hinson, Burton, Cummings, and Federiko Federiko all converted layups in the run. Cummings finished a physical ten-foot jumper in the lane. After Hinson hit a fadeaway three pointer in the corner, the Panthers, for the first time since the opening tip, had gained the momentum in front of a raucous Petersen Events Center.
Down the stretch, Pitt’s guards — led by the team’s assist leader Cummings — distributed the ball down low to Federiko, who cleaned up with three buckets in the final minutes to put away the ranked Cavaliers.
Hinson finished with 16 points to lead the team, while Sibande added 16 off the bench, including the two loudest points of his season on a breakaway slam. Burton added 15 points in the win. Cummings finished with a team-high eight assists in the victory.
Virginia looked to guard Kihei Clark for offensive production, as the veteran posted an impressive 17-point, eight-assist stat line. Armaan Franklin, Reece Beekman, and Kadin Shedrick also scored in double digits for the ‘Hoos.
With the win, Pitt snaps an eight-game losing streak to Virginia and extends its current overall winning streak to five. Pitt has won ten of its last 11, and now sits at 11-4 (4-0 ACC) on the season.
Pitt now moves on to take on Clemson on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. once again at the Petersen Events Center. That matchup will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on 93.7 the Fan.