Last-second shot lifts Virginia to a victory over slumping Pitt at Petersen
By Kevin Gorman
Published: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, 2:45 p.m.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett kept telling his team that its game against Pitt was going to come down to a score and a stop.
The only thing he was wrong about was the order.
After stopping the Panthers with 9.1 seconds left in a tied game, the Cavaliers ran a double curl for Malcolm Brogdon, who sank the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left to give Virginia a 48-45 victory over No. 18 Pitt on Sunday afternoon at Petersen Events Center.
“He has the ability to make big shots,” Bennett said, “and he did it at a very important time.”
The victory kept Virginia (17-5, 8-1) in sole possession of second place in the ACC standings behind undefeated Syracuse. The loss was the second consecutive at home for the Panthers (18-4, 6-3), who lost to Duke last Monday and are in a third-place tie with the Blue Devils heading into Wednesday's game at Miami (11-10, 2-6).
“Coming off a loss against Duke, we needed this win,” Pitt freshman forward Mike Young said. “We needed this win to bounce back, to get us back to where we needed to be.”
The game was tied 17 times, an arena record, and saw seven lead changes as Virginia dictated the methodical pace to win its first close ACC contest of the season.
Virginia's previous seven ACC wins were all by at least 10 points, and the Cavaliers led by 21 or more in all of those games.
Brogdon, a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard, played a pivotal role on both ends of the floor. He scored a game-high 16 points, hitting both 3-point attempts, while helping to hold Pitt scoring leader Lamar Patterson to 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
Pitt got an early scare in the first half when fifth-year senior center Talib Zanna twisted his left ankle at the 8:38 mark.
Zanna got up and walked off and, after getting his ankle taped, returned later in the first half.
He had two points and three rebounds.
Virginia wasted no time taking advantage, as Joe Harris hit a 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers an 11-8 lead. But Pitt went small, inserting Jamel Artis at power forward and sliding Young to the post. The freshman duo combined to score Pitt's next eight points, including a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer by Young, and would finish with combined totals of 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Brogdon's dunk and free throw gave Virginia a 19-17 lead, and his steal and alley-oop to Akil Mitchell for a dunk tied it at 21-21. The Cavaliers had possession and worked the clock for the last shot of the half, but James Robinson stripped Justin Anderson and fed Cameron Wright for a layup with 0.7 seconds left to give the Panthers a 23-21 halftime lead.
Luck was on Pitt's side for much of the game. Wright made a key 3-pointer after losing his dribble at the top of the key. With the shot clock dwindling, he launched a shot that hit the backboard and spun around the rim before going in for a 44-41 lead with 6:52 remaining.
It was as important as it was improbable, given the Cavaliers missed 3 of 4 free throws around that sequence. But London Perrantes sank two free throws to tie it at 44-44.
Neither team converted a field goal between Wright's 3-pointer and Brogdon's heroics, although Robinson appeared to give Pitt a lead at 1:21 when he hit a shot falling backward. But after officials reviewed video, it was determined to be a shot-clock violation.
“When you know you're in a one-possession game, which it pretty much was the entire game, you know it's going to come down to one shot, one bounce, one long rebound, one block out, one extend,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “That's what we've tried to get across to our guys: That it's going to come down to one possession, and so those little things are magnified.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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