Connect with us

Pitt Basketball

Pitt Comes up Just Short Against Top Seeded North Carolina, 72-65

Published

on

Pitt guard Carlton Carrington drives against UNC in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Friday, March 15, 2024 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

WASHINGTON – – It was a ten-round battle in the nation’s capital with a trip to the ACC Championship on the line.

On Friday night, No. 4 Pitt fought No. 1 seed North Carolina in front of a Tar-Heel heavy crowd, competing until the very end with one of the nation’s top teams. After cutting the UNC lead down to just three points in the final minutes, Pitt surrendered a deep three to ACC Player of the Year RJ Davis with less than three minutes to play which served as the dagger.

The Panthers went on a three-minute scoreless streak down the stretch that killed their hopes at an upset and a chance at the ACC title. But it wasn’t as simple as that.

After North Carolina started the game with an 8-4 lead, the Panthers punched back quickly.

Pitt then exploded for an emphatic 13-0 run which included back-to-back threes off the hands of Guillermo Diaz-Graham. The Panthers jumped out to a 17-8 lead behind strong defense and hot shooting — specifically from freshman Bub Carrington. While North Carolina’s Harrison Ingram locked up Blake Hinson on the outside, Carrington thrived with the ball in his hands, winning the guard battle against RJ Davis early.

The Baltimore native carried Pitt early, scoring 13 of Pitt’s first 26 points. He hit five of his first six attempts, including a crowd-silencing three pointer, to kickstart the Panthers.

After fellow rookie guard Lowe missed a step-back three-point attempt over Bacot, Carolina’s big Armando Bacot flew down the floor for a breakaway slam dunk, igniting the Tar Heel faithful and trimming Pitt’s lead down to just two.

With a put-back layup less than a minute later, Ingram tied the game at 24. The Tar Heels were on a 10-2 run, and the stadium full of Tar Heel blue was loud. Minutes later, North Carolina took a 28-26 lead its first of the game.

Throughout the rest of the half, the Panthers received big buckets from Lowe, Carrington, and Diaz-Graham to head into the half with a 35-33 lead. However, Pitt bigs Federiko Federiko (three) and Diaz-Graham (two) were both already in foul trouble, and Hinson had not scored a single point.

“Everybody ready,” Pitt assistant Jason Capel shouted to the Panther bench as the second half began. “Five more rounds.”

In the first round of the second-half fight, the two teams traded buckets and the Panthers led all the way to the 15:06 mark. However, then, Davis hit an and-one layup, igniting the Carolina fanbase. Bacot followed that up with a slam dunk of his own, prompting a timeout from Jeff Capel.

Pitt trailed by four, and the Panthers were clinging onto this game. After getting down by six minutes later, Carrington, the game’s star, hit a step-back three pointer to trim it right back down to three and reach the 21-point mark.

The Tar Heels continued to punish Pitt for its every mistake it made, but the Panthers just wouldn’t go away. After Pitt missed an opportunity for a rebound, North Carolina’s Bacot continued to thrive inside, hitting a right-handed hook shot over the out-stretched arms of Guillermo Diaz-Graham. Pitt then answered on the other end, as Ishmael Leggett scored his first two points of the game on a crucial floater, drawing the foul with it. With 7:45 to play, after Leggett sank his free throw, the Panthers trailed by four.

After Leggett and Hinson struggled for the first 15 minutes of the game, the two each hit massive shots for Pitt. Hinson converted an and-one bucket to cut the lead down to four. Shortly after, Leggett drained his first three of the game right in front of the Pitt bench to cut the Heels’ lead to just two.

In the final three minutes, Pitt went cold, and the Tar Heels hit their big shots. However, with just under one minute remaining, Carrington hit his fourth three of the game to cut North Carolina’s lead down to four in a last-chance effort. That three was too little, too late for the Panthers, as Carrington then missed on the ensuing possession. The game went final 30 seconds later, with a score of 72-65.

Carrington finished as Pitt’s leading scorer with 24. Lowe followed with 17, Bacot added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels in the victory. North Carolina won the rebounding battle 44-34 in the win.

With the loss, Pitt falls to 22-11 and 13-9 in ACC action. No. 1 North Carolina advances to the championship to play the winner of Virginia and NC State in the ACC Championship on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The Panthers will now wait and see if their name is called on Selection Sunday.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
6 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alex
Alex
2 months ago

This is a tournament team! Its BS that we are going to be in suspense until selection Sunday. I don’t know if anyone else was annoyed by the front row seat dormers cheering for the heels. This is who I wanted to play and thought the heart was there but just couldn’t finish. I’m proud of this team and glad they played 2nd half of the season so well. H2P!

Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
2 months ago

Looking at the box score I see Pitt earned only 6 free throws while North Carolina got 19. Something is wrong there. It was a rough and tumble game. A lot of Pitt players on the floor with no calls. How many times were Federicko and Diaz-Graham called for a foul after being knocked down?

Alex
Alex
2 months ago

Well yea ESPN and the officials have an agenda, we gotta have the North Carolina and the Dukes win because they are North Carolina and Duke: if you’re not them might as well be cannon fodder!

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago

Lol

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

I hope Carrington and Lowe stay at least another year. I’ve heard 100 times over the past couple days that this is a NCAA tournament team. I worry that we’re going to be disappointed.

kevin
kevin
2 months ago

I’ve watched a lot of basketball in 50 years, and this was one of the worst officiated games in a while. Yes, NC was the better team but very bias officiating last night!
H2P!

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

 
Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend