Pitt Men Suffer Early Exit in Their Final Big East Tournament
Quarterfinal Round: No. 5 seed Syracuse 62, No. 4 seed Pitt 59
By: Ryan Reis
The University of Pittsburgh’s final appearance in the Big East Tournament came to a screeching halt against the Syracuse Orange, as they were defeated 62-59 against their future ACC rival. In the first half, Syracuse took a 40-27 lead due to the red hot shooting of James Southerland. Southerland missed the first game due to an academic suspension but he came out stroking as he dropped 17 points in the first half alone including an incredible 5-5 from behind the three-point line. Southerland led Syracuse in scoring for the game with 20 points as he finished 6-6 from beyond the arc. The hot shooting was not Southerland alone as Syracuse shot 53% from the field as a team in the first half as well as 61% from three point range. Syracuse built just enough of a cushion in the first half to throttle a charging Panther team in the second half.
Thoroughly outclassed and outplayed in the first half, the Panthers found their game in the second half slowly chipping away at the Syracuse lead. The Panthers were led by Lamar Patterson who scored 14 points and chipped in with 11 rebounds. Also scoring in double digits for Pitt was Tray Woodall who scored 12 and both Talib Zanna and James Robinson who finished with 10 points respectively. Pitt had two key chances to tie the game in the closing minutes. The first was with Syracuse up three (58-55) when Talib Zanna had a key put back with 31 seconds left and was fouled in the process. The score was then 58-57, but Zanna would go on to miss the free throw. That miss would prove to be the closest that Pitt would come. With the score 58-57, Michael Carter-Williams took over the game. He was fouled off Zanna’s missed free throw and made both shots to put Syracuse back up by three (60-57). He then made the play of the game stealing a pass intended for Woodall from Robinson that essentially ended Pitt’s hopes for a comeback after sinking two more free throws.
Overall, Panther fans can take pride in the way that Pitt fought back in this game. They showed guts and hustle as demonstrated by the fact that Pitt outrebounded Syracuse 40-28 in the game. However, the big difference was Syracuse from three point land as the Orange finished 63.2% from beyond the arc on 12-19 shooting. Pitt will now wait for their name to be called on Selection Sunday to find out where they will be heading for the NCAA Tournament. It is likely that Pitt will end up either a 5 or a 6 seed come Sunday night, and their next game will be in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament either on Thursday or Friday.
Tray Woodall, Head Coach Jamie Dixon, and Lamar Patterson