West Virginia’s offense started hot, and when the Mountaineers’ defense caught up, the combination was too much for Pitt to handle, as the Panthers fell 81-56 in the 189th basketball edition of the Backyard Brawl Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.
On a day defined by falling rain, the shots were falling early Friday night, as the two teams combined to make five three-point attempts, including a four-point play by greg Elliott that gave Pitt a 15-10 lead at the first media timeout.
That lead wouldn’t hold, though, because while Pitt’s shooting cooled off, West Virginia’s didn’t. The Mountaineers made 11 of their first 12 shots, and even when they slowed down and allowed the Panthers to climb back into it with a tie game at 26-26, that didn’t last. WVU went to halftime holding a 47-36 lead on 17-of-26 shooting (65.4%), and while Pitt shot a solid 50% in the first 20 minutes, that was offset by 12 turnovers.
The Panthers were also called for 12 fouls in the first half, including three on starting point guard Nelly Cummings and two each on starters Jamarius Burton, Blake Hinson and Fede Federiko, as well as reserve wing Nate Santos.
The foul issues continued into the second half. Cummings ultimately fouled out on an offensive violation, and Hinson and Burton finished the game with four fouls each. The Panthers were called for 21 fouls in the game; West Virginia was also whistled 19 times.
The biggest problem, though, was defense. West Virginia shot 52.6% in the game and outscored Pitt 36-22 in the paint and got a remarkable 42 points off the bench as Bob Huggins went 11-deep in the win.
WVU guard Joe Toussaint had a game-high 18 points in the Mountaineers’ win. Burton scored 16 for Pitt and Elliott added 12 – all of which came in the first four minutes. After attempting 41 three-pointers in the season-opening win over Tennessee-Martin on Monday night, Pitt put up just 23 shots from outside the arc and only made five of them – none of which came in the second half.
The Panthers (1-1) will next play against Michigan in Brooklyn as part of the Legends Classic. That game will tip at 6 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 16.