Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby hoisted a last-second three-pointer that was just off the mark, and Pitt escaped with an 81-79 victory on Wednesday at the Petersen Events Center. Despite making a school-record 18 three-point field goals in the game, the Panthers needed all 40 minutes to secure a home conference victory over the Demon Deacons.
Pitt did not make a field goal in the final 2:20 in the contest and on its last offensive possession were hit with a shot-clock violation. The Panthers survived, however, and improved to 14-7 on the year and 7-3 in ACC play, which ties Pitt’s best 10-game start since joining the league ahead of the 2013-14 season.
The story of the game was clearly the outside shooting prowess by the Panthers. Pitt connected on 18-of-37 attempts from deep. Blake Hinson led the way for Pitt with 24 points, on the strength of 8 made three-pointers. Greg Elliott followed behind with 18 points, all via the three-point shot as well.
Pitt’s first made six field goals of the game were from behind the arc and it was the theme for the remainder of the game. The two teams traded early runs, but Pitt asserted control at 8:11 in the first half. Hinson’s three-pointer gave Pitt a two-point lead, a margin they extended to 15 with 1:01 in the first half.
Despite all the momentum swinging in Pitt’s favor, they let Wake grab some confidence late in the first half. Wake Forest’s Andrew Carr scored 5 points in the final minute of the half to bring the lead back down to 10, with the Panthers holding a 49-39 advantage.
Pitt’s first half was shaky at times on defense, but the Panthers had 10 3-pointers at the break, they were shooting over 50% from the field, and had 14 assists on 16 made field goals.
Despite the prolific offense numbers, the Demon Deacons remained in the game thanks to an impressive showing of their own. Wake Forest shot 51% from the floor on Wednesday night and saw four players reach double figures. Appley and Cameron Hildreth both provided 15, while Andrew Carr and Davien Williamson each contributed 14.
Pitt had managed to keep Wake Forest at arm’s length at the start of the second half, but a 7-0 Wake run that began at the 7:19 mark actually gave the visiting team the lead at 74-73. That lead was short lived, as Pitt responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead before ultimately hanging on to win the game.
Nelly Cummings and Nike Sibande scored 11 apiece for the Panthers. Jamarius Burton, Pitt’s leading scorer, was held to just 6 points, but notched 9 assists. Pitt held its own in two areas it has struggled in lately: bench scoring and rebounding. Pitt out-rebounded Wake 32-30 and both teams posted 20 bench points for the game.
Jerome Lane, an all-time Pitt great, was honored throughout Wednesday’s game. It was the 35th anniversary of his famed dunk against Providence that was accompanied by Bill Raftery’s legendary call of ‘Send it in Jerome!’
Pitt will look to maintain its momentum on Saturday as they welcomed No. 20 Miami to the Petersen Events Center for a 4:00 p.m. tip.