Well, so much for more offense.
Pitt’s 60-50 win actually had one less point than the 57-54 game a few weeks ago. Defense was again the key as both teams struggled shooting the ball and fans were treated to a narrow Pitt lead of 22-18 at the half.
Don’t tell Ashton Gibbs that it was Senior Day. He was the only player in double figures for Pitt and the Panthers’ trio of seniors, Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee, and Gilbert Brown, combined for fewer points (16) than Gibbs (18). Gibbs, though, didn’t come close to the day that Villanova’s Maalik Wayns had. Wayns poured in 27 points and hit 6-12 three-point shots.
The key to Pitt’s win was at the free throw line. Usually a reason for the team losing, free throws were a big reason they won today. It wasn’t so much that Pitt had 16 more attempts than Nova at the line, it was that they actually made them. Pitt was an incredible 23-26 (88%) from the line today and Gibbs, Lamar Patterson, and Gilbert Brown were a perfect 14-14.
The win, of course, means Pitt wins the Big East regular season title outright. for Pitt fans who want to see the team advance deeply into the NCAA tournament, that might not sound like a big deal. But, as I mentioned over at Cardiac Hill, I think today’s victory that gave Pitt the title will lead to a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. For that reason, the regular season title was a big deal.
As the regular season champs, Pitt now gets some time off and a double bye for the Big East tournament.