The Pitt Panthers may have fallen the No. 1-ranked Syracuse Orange on Monday, but the 71-63 score was a lot closer than it might have been.
The Panthers struggled with their shooting in the first half, but headed to the locker room with only a 35-26 deficit due primarily to a bunch of offensive rebounds.
In the second half, they got off to a good start with a three-pointer by Ashton Gibbs, only to give up six unanswered points. The Panthers kept battling from there, though, and they forced Syracuse to take a timeout after Talib Zanna’s jumper cut the lead to four with about nine minutes remaining.
Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters then hit three-pointers to take the wind out of Pitt’s sails, however, and the Panthers never got that close again. Still, it was a hard-fought second half for a team that handled Syracuse better than it has handed other, lesser Big East opponents in the past couple weeks. The Panthers may have lost, but they can hold their heads high.
Gibbs, Lamar Patterson and Cameron Wright had 10 points each to lead Pitt. Dante Taylor added 11 rebounds. Five Syracuse players finished in double figures, led by Waiters, who had 16 points.
Pitt hosts No. 21-ranked Louisville on Saturday.
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