The Cards held court at the Yum! Center for five straight games, but tonight they were back on the road facing another ACC opponent in Pittsburgh.
Although they were at risk of being blown out at one point in the second half, Louisville battled back to send the game into overtime, but could not get win as they fell to the Panthers 89-86.
Both teams’ coaches are in their first year at the helm, and are taking over programs that have seen better days. Pitt went 8-24 last year without an ACC win, but have won 10 games already this season and are looking to bounce back after a one-sided loss to North Carolina.
The Cards struggled out of the gate against their first conference opponent, but closed strong for a commanding victory against Miami. They were looking forward to continuing that momentum into this game and collecting as many conference wins as possible in the month of January.
Both teams shot the same number of shots on the same number of possessions in the first half, but Pitt made four more baskets, including three more three-pointers, to take a 10-point halftime lead. The Cards struggled mightily, unable to string together any consistent offense, again seeing their bigs get into foul trouble and their 10 first-half turnovers converted into 14 points for Pitt.
Jordan Nwora was 0-8 from field goal range in the first 20 minutes.
The beginning of the second half unfolded in a similar way. Every time the Cards would chain some shots together and get the deficit to single-digits, the Panthers responded with a three-pointer or an and-one to get it back up to 10 or more.
Finally in the last ten minutes of the game Pitt began to falter and Louisville took advantage, going on a 7-0 run to get within three points, but the Panthers came back with seven straight of their own to get the lead back up to 12.
The Cards then went on a 12-2 run to get within two points. With less than 30 seconds left, Dwayne Sutton banked in a shot to tie it and send the Cards to their second overtime game this season.
Pitt had been up by as much as 16 in the second half.
The squads traded threes to start overtime, and stayed neck-and-neck for most of it, until McMahon missed treys on two straight possessions and the Panthers made a layup and some clutch free throws to get the win.
Nwora struggled the whole game, finishing with eight points on 2-14 shooting. He and Ryan McMahon, usually solid three-point shooters, finished a combined 4-15 from beyond the arc.
Despite the heroic near-comeback, the Cards will have plenty to improve on after this game. They finished with 18 turnovers and Pitt was able to capitalize, scoring 29 off those turnovers. They also only shot 25 percent from three-point range, where a good chunk of their scoring usually comes from.
Christen Cunningham led the Cards in scoring with 23 points on 9-11 shooting. Sutton, Steven Enoch and McMahon would all also score in double-figures.
Sutton earned the second double-double of his career with 12 points and 11 rebounds, leading the team in boards. He also had five assists.
The Cards fall to 10-5 on the season (1-1 ACC). The Panthers move to 11-4 (1-1 ACC).
Louisville stays on the road, and the competition gets even harder, as the face #12 North Carolina on January 12.<