Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings self-critical in OT win vs. Mount St. Mary's
Pitt stretched its winning streak to four games Tuesday night with an 82-78 overtime victory against Mount St. Mary's before another record-low crowd of 2,333 at Petersen Events Center.
But all coach Kevin Stallings could do after the game was shrug his shoulders and criticize the one person he figured was most responsible for losing all of a 15-point lead with 9 minutes, 46 seconds left in the second half.
He'll probably berate that guy even more when he looks in the mirror Wednesday morning.
“I guess I'm a little bit disappointed in our performance, but I'm really more disappointed in my coaching,” he said. “I could tell before the game I didn't have (players) where they needed to be.”
Stallings said his young team must play with an edge — a sharpness, an air of confidence — to survive this season.
“It wasn't that we didn't play hard. We played hard,” he said. “We just weren't on edge. We had an edge Friday night (in a a victory against Duquesne), and it didn't let up for 40 minutes.”
Tuesday night, after scoring the game's first seven points and taking a 31-24 lead into intermission, Pitt's defense fell apart in the second half.
“I thought we did do well defensively in stretches, but I thought the second half was abysmal,” he said.
Mount St. Mary's (3-6), an NCAA Tournament First Four winner last season and the defending Northeast Conference champion, shot 60.4 percent (17 of 28) while scoring 49 points in the second half.
“We just weren't locked in defensively in the second half, and I take responsibility for that,” Stallings said.
On the other end of the floor, Pitt (5-4) committed 17 turnovers against Mount St. Mary's pressing defense.
“We just stopped playing hard,” junior Jared Wilson-Frame said. “It was an effort thing.”
Mount St. Mary's 5-foot-5 guard Junior Robinson, who scored 39 Saturday against Loyola, recorded 24. Reserve guard Greg Alexander added 17 before fouling out with three minutes left in the second half.
“We were lucky he fouled out,” Stallings said. “He was torching us.”
Fortunately for Pitt, Wilson-Frame became the aggressor offensively in the second half, scoring all 15 of his points after halftime.
“I just started attacking,” he said. “I was just trying to find gaps and make plays for my teammates. When I started doing that, I started finding openings for myself.”
With leading scorer Ryan Luther off his game offensively — he missed nine of 11 shots, finished with four points, but contributed a career-high 16 rebounds — freshman point guard Marcus Carr stepped up and scored a personal-best 23 points.
“Marcus is a take-charge guy, and he has some abilities. So it's nice to see that,” Stallings said.
Carr was a savior in overtime, hitting five of his six free throws. Wilson-Frame scored the other four points to help Pitt avoid an upset.
“What we do show is enough poise to finish the job,” Stallings said. “That's encouraging with a group this young.”