After a tumultuous week for the football program, the basketball team came close to disappointing Pitt fans even further. Luckily, some big plays down the stretch helped the team to an 83-79 win on the road at Providence.
As I wrote in the preview, Pitt has had loads of trouble with Providence over the past few years. That trend continued as Pitt couldn’t put away the Friars and nearly paid for it with their first conference loss. The frustrating thing for the Panthers was that they held several leads in the game, but turnovers allowed Providence to keep the game close and the Panthers even trailed late.
The team looked rusty, turning the ball over 22 times. That rust could be justified by an eight-day layoff. Still, it was baffling at times just how many mistakes the team made. Pitt also battled foul trouble, limiting the minutes of several key players. Brad Wanamaker fouled out and Travon Woodall, Gilbert Brown, and Nasir Robinson all had four fouls.
For the second straight game, Pitt was also torched by a star player. While they gave up 31 points to UConn’s Kemba Walker, he didn’t have a great shooting night. And just as important, Pitt limited the contributions of other UConn players. That didn’t happen tonight as Marshon Brooks scored 28 points on just under 50% shooting from the field. Three other Friars, Vincent Council, Duke Mondy, and Gerard Coleman all chipped in more than ten points.
Pitt was led by the suddenly-consistent Gilbert Brown, who scored 19 points. Only two of those came in the second half, but that was a product of better defense against him and Pitt’s offense not being able to get into a rhythm due to presses by Providence – not by poor shooting. Brown has now scored at least 15 points in four of the past five games. If the Panthers are to go deep in March, they’ll need these types of performances from Gil.
Pitt now gets a few days off before facing Marquette at home on Saturday.