For a half, Pitt appeared to be in control of Game One of the CBI Finals against Washington State. They held only a narrow three-point halftime lead, but the offense was clicking and if the defense could improve just a bit, an opening series win looked possible. Unfortunately for Pitt, games consist of two halves and for much of the second half, the Panthers’ offense disappeared.
Pitt suffered a 2-15 shooting stretch in the second half and fell behind in double digits. That lead proved just out of reach for Pitt in the end, but they weren’t without their chances.
If you’re a Pitt fan, it’s hard to be disappointed with the number of opportunities the Panthers had to win the game. Down only two, Pitt had the chance to tie the game or pull ahead with a three. Lamar Patterson missed a shot, but that was far from the end. The Cougars promptly missed a free throw and Talib Zanna was fouled. Had he made both free throws, the game could have gone to overtime. But after converting only one, Pitt still found themselves down by a point.
Even with only four seconds left, Pitt still would find itself with two more chances to win. Washington State missed the first free throw and after a timeout, Tray Woodall caught the inbounds pass around midcourt, but missed a wild layup attempt. The clock was kind, though, and the Panthers had yet another shot to win the game with .8 seconds remaining. With a fairly good look, Lamar Patterson missed a fadeaway shot at the end and Pitt was finally done.
Watching this game was incredibly frustrating from the Pitt side of things. The Panthers had so many chances to win the game and simply couldn’t get it done. The good news is that they get the next two games at home, but the flip side is that Washington State leading scorer and rebounder Brock Motum could be back after missing tonight’s contest. Pitt may have home court advantage, but they will still have their work cut out for them – especially if the offense disappears for another long stretch.
For more on the series and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog Cardiac Hill.