The Pitt Panther likely need to win their last 4 games to make the NCAA tournament. Tonight they took care of their first order of business beating the Boston College Eagles 71-65 at the Pete. The Panthers improve to 19-10 overall and 8-7 in the ACC. BC drops to 9-18 and 1-14 in the ACC.
Pitt started strong against BC and raced out to an early 22-12 lead with a balanced offensive attack that saw all five starters score. They were playing pretty well defensively only allowing two BC players to score points in the first 18 minutes of action. The lead extended to 35-20 before the Eagles, and Olivier Hanlan, went on a 15-0 run to tie the game early in the second half. Hanlan had a game high 39 points for BC and almost managed to beat Pitt by himself. For the game Hanlan and Aaron Brown combined for 59 of the 65 points scored by BC.
After allowing the Eagles to tie the score at 35 all much of the second half of the game saw Pitt maintaining a lead and Hanlan and Brown answering made buckets by the Panthers. Pitt never trailed in the second half and maintained a decent lead for much of the final 15 minutes. It was great to see Michael Young wanting the ball in the post and getting to the basket for 22 points and 9 rebounds. Jamel Artis had another great game scoring 24 and 8 boards. “Mike and Jamel are becoming more patient,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It’s just making them better.”
Sheldon Jeter added 9 points and Cameron Wright chipped in 10 points for the Panthers. Down the stretch Pitt was able to make enough free throws to hold off any comeback attempt by BC. For the game Pitt had 24 made free throws.
Olivier Hanlan was incredible, hitting 5 three pointers and going 14-14 from the free throw line. His 39 points was the second most scored at the Pete by an opponent. It just was not enough to beat the Panthers tonight as Pitt seemed to wear down the BC players.
Pitt plays next at Wake Forrest on Sunday. Wake is not a great team but they often play close games and they have beaten NC State and Miami in their last two home games. Pitt will need to play well to win on the road. Something they have failed to do too often this year.
The Panthers now have three games remaining in the regular season. Win out and they are likely in. Lose and they will have to win one, probably two games in the ACC tournament.