The Pittsburgh Panthers (8-13, 0-8 ACC) led for nearly the entire game until it really mattered when North Carolina State (14-7, 4-4 ACC) took over the lead late and held on to take away what would’ve been Pitt’s first ACC victory on the season.
NC State was led by Omer Yurtseven, who scored 16 points. Jared Wilson-Frame lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 22 points for the Panthers.
NC State also got a huge contribution from Markell Johnson. While he only had five points, he grabbed seven rebounds and 12 assists.
It was a highly disappointing outcome for the Panthers. The team had gone down early but had charged forward and tied the game. They then really started shooting the ball from beyond the arc and seemingly hit everything they shot. It was a sight to see and they owned a 43-33 halftime lead.
Things really went south after that.
After shooting 8-of-15 in the first half from three-point range, the Panthers did not hit a single three-pointer in the second half going 0-of-14. The offense that had gotten them out to their biggest lead of conference play had suddenly disappeared. The lead ever-so-quickly began diminishing and finally led to the Wolfpack taking over the lead for good.
“In a stretch of disappointing games, that was disappointing,” head coach Kevin Stallings said following the loss. “I just feel horribly for our players. They deserved to win. We need a win. They need a win.”
“One thing we’ve talked about is losing should never feel okay. It should never feel okay, it should never be okay.”
The Panthers had been down late in the game and at the last media timeout, Stallings decided to pull out Wilson-Frame, his best player on the night, while the Panthers were down by two.
“I don’t really recall,” Stallings said. “I don’t recall. I don’t remember even taking him out then.”
It is a questionable quote from Stallings, who claims he wasn’t even aware he’d taken his best player out.
Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts was well aware that once the young Panthers had started to show signs of inexperience, he had them right where they wanted him.
“I didn’t know if this would happen,” Keatts said. “But I said we need to get the game close because they’ve got some young guys and they may make some mistakes. I thought they rushed some shots.”
- Jared Wilson-Frame was the game’s lethal shooter. Wilson-Frame shot the lights out in the first half scoring 13 points. He had been very good for seemingly the first time in conference play which was very encouraging. This was one of the easier games to this point as they’ve had some stiff competition over the past few weeks so he wasn’t facing premier defenders. NC State is still a good team and to see Wilson-Frame get the looks and drop the shots he did Wednesday is huge for his confidence going forward. He drove the lane very strong as well. This is something to watch and see if he can build on this weekend.
- It’s a young team who had a big lead — and blew it. It’s hard to really tell what went wrong in the three-point category in the second half. To shoot over 50 percent in the first half and then not hit a single three in the second is just weird. But, as a young team facing ACC play and having an extended lead for the first time, the nerves and confidence were shaken once any trace of a Wolfpack comeback. The team can take this experience and try to build off of this. As they say, you must learn how to lose before you can learn how to win. They’re getting there.
- Of course, the shooting was sporadic and so was their play. As the game went on, you could see the Panthers growing increasingly nervous in the second half. The shooting went cold, the defense went cold, Stallings became increasingly nervous. Those are things you can’t have especially in the ACC and, again, with experience, these things can be fixed.