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Despite Rough Start, Pitt Rallies to Beat Canisius, 82-71



PITTSBURGH — After a lackluster first-half showing on Saturday night, Pitt bounced back behind a red-hot second-half shooting performance to defeat Canisius, 82-71 at the Petersen Events Center.

Trailing by one point with 9 minutes remaining, Pitt finally rallied together to go on an incredible shooting run over the rest of the game. The Panthers tightened up their defense and hit nine of their ten field-goal attempts to expand their lead and bury the Golden Griffins — earning their seventh win of the season.

In the win, Blake Hinson finished with a team-high 26 points on 8-for-13 shooting, while Bub Carrington followed with 16 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Ishmael Leggett followed with 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists in the win. Pitt’s bench added 22 in the effort, with Guillermo Diaz-Graham leading the way with seven.

Canisius’ Siem Uijtendaal opened the game with a three-pointer, seconds after the the opening tip. The Panthers quickly bounced back over the next few minutes, claiming an early 10-7 lead behind early buckets from Hinson, Leggett, and Carrington.

Shortly after, the Golden Griffins regained the lead, 22-21, as Pitt turned the ball over five times in the first ten minutes and Canisius continued to find easy shots. Hinson went on to hit four of his first five shot attempts, scoring 13 points in the half. Carrington and Diaz-Graham each added seven points in the frame, but the Panthers just could not stop Canisius on the other end. With Uijtendaal hitting a two-point field goal in the final ten seconds of the frame, Canisius regained the lead once again, carrying a 41-40 lead into the break.

Will Jeffress opened the second half with his second three pointer of the game, but immediately after, Canisius followed with a quick 6-0 run, forcing Jeff Capel to call a timeout with 17:35 to go, trailing by four. Minutes later, the Golden Griffins built their lead up to six, 51-45, and the Panthers became more and more frustrated with their unsuccessful possessions on both sides of the ball.

While Canisius hit six of its eight field goals in a second-half hot streak, the Panthers started the half shooting 2 for 13 from the field. Pitt finally snapped the cold streak with a Carrington three to cut the deficit down to four with less than 13 minutes to play. Shortly after, a cutting Federiko Federiko found Leggett who kicked it to Jorge Diaz-Graham in the corner for a three, cutting the lead all the way down to one point. With 10:30 to go, Pitt found a wide-open Hinson for three, taking the lead by two.

The teams continued to battle back and forth throughout the next three minutes, as Pitt earned big points from Leggett, Federiko, and others. Federiko cleaned up an inside assist from Carrington with 7:15 to go, building the Panthers’ lead up to four, its largest of the half.

Down the stretch, Canisius kept the Panthers within reach, as Tre Dinkins dropped in a tough, shot-clock buzzer-beating fadeaway with less than five minutes to go to keep the deficit within four. However, Hinson — the nation’s leader in three-point field goals — quickly followed with his third three of the game to build Pitt’s lead to a game-high seven with less than five minutes to play.

With three minutes to play, a driving Leggett found Federiko for a two-handed alley-oop finish, extending Pitt’s lead to nine and all but finishing off the Golden Griffins.

For Canisius, Uijdentaal led the way with 18 points, while Frank Mitchell led the team in rebounding with nine. The Golden Griffins shot 53% from the field, and 38% from three-point range, just below their average of 39% coming into the game.

With the win, Pitt advances to 7-3 on the season and 5-2 at home. The Panthers will now take on South Carolina State on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m., once again at the Petersen Events Center.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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