Pitt suffered its third loss of the season on Saturday, losing in a nailbiter to St. John’s, 60-59. It was a particularly painful loss as Pitt seemingly had control of the game in the final minutes before a late St. John’s run. The Panthers were up five and the defense had held the Johnnies to only two field goals over an eight-plus minute span. But a rash of fouls and free throws hurt Pitt’s chances and gave St. John’s a late lead.
Trailing by two, Pitt was lifted briefly on a three-pointer by Travon Woodall. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the scoring as Dwight Hardy of the Red Storm hit an improbable layup in the game’s final seconds to give St. John’s the win. Gilbert Brown, who was defending Hardy on that last shot did all he could without fouling him. But Hardy simply made a great play, case closed.
There’s not much to complain about in this game if you really think about it. Pitt played downright awful and had Ashton Gibbs missed this game, Pitt certainly would have lost by even more.
Gibbs, playing for the first time after missing Pitt’s last three games, had a career-high 26 points. So much for being rusty. Unfortunately for Pitt, he got little help. Brad Wanamaker? 2-7. Woodall? 2-8. Gilbert Brown? 1-5. No other Panther scored more than seven points and while Gibbs is good, he ain’t Superman.
Pitt’s hopes for a No. 1 seed have been dashed, but are far from eliminated. When the new rankings come out this weekend, Pitt should still be a top ten team and if they win the Big East regular season title, that will be a huge feather in their cap.
The loss to St. John’s today was upsetting, but it’s not nearly as disappointing as the way Pitt’s offense has struggled lately. This is the third time in the past seven games that the team has scored under 60 points and Pitt hasn’t reached its season average since an 80-point outburst against DePaul nearly a month ago. Simply put, the offense has to get better.
The Panthers need to finish strong and with games still left against Villanova, West Virginia, and at Louisville, that may be difficult.