Mountaineers lose first-half lead, fall to Pittsburgh 71-58
Published: Friday, February 25, 2011
Updated: Friday, February 25, 2011 01:02
For the second straight game against Pittsburgh, West Virginia entered halftime with a narrow lead.
Just like before, they lost it.
Deniz Kilicli's hook shot, which earned him 19 points in WVU's 71-66 loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 7, was held to two points.
Pitt's dominance in the paint and on the glass, however, was as strong as before, as the No. 4 Panthers claimed a 71-58 win over West Virginia at the Petersen Event Center Thursday to sweep the season series for the first time since 2009.
The loss was the largest defeat by the Mountaineers in the Backyard Brawl since 2007 when they lost 80-66.
"I guess they out-toughed us again," said WVU senior Joe Mazzulla. "They got the best of us."
West Virginia (17-10, 8-7) shot 26-percent from the field in the second half, allowing its 31-30 halftime lead to quickly deteriorate into a Big East Conference blowout. Pittsburgh (25-3, 13-2) led by as many as 17 with 5:14 remaining thanks to its 15-for-23 (65-percent) shooting effort after the break.
West Virginia started the second half 0-for-4 from the field and committed four fouls in the process to allow Pitt to go on a 7-0 run to start the half. Pittsburgh began 8-of-12 from the field and outscored West Virginia 17-5 in the first eight minutes out of the break.
Pittsburgh outscored WVU 41-27 after halftime and earned a 24-4 point advantage down low. Twelve of the Panthers' 15 second-half buckets occurred in the paint.
"It was a tale of two halves yet again," Mazzulla said. "That's been our problem all year."
The Mountaineers failed to score in the second half until Kilicli's only bucket of the game 3:19 in. Kilicli, however, fouled out with 4:25 remaining.
WVU made just six field goals after halftime, three of which came courtesy of guard Casey Mitchell, who ended with a game-high 22 points off the bench.
Pittsburgh finished with four players in double-figure scoring including Nasir Robinson's team-high 15 points.
"It was like there was a lid on the basket," said WVU junior forward Kevin Jones, who finished just 4-of-13 from the field and didn't make a second-half shot.
"It all comes down to wasting possessions. We wasted a lot."
The loss drops WVU to 8-7 in the Big East and in a three-way tie for ninth place in the conference standings with three games remaining.
Pitt, meanwhile, remains atop the Big East standings.
WVU is now 1-7 at the Petersen Events Center.
"They're good. That's the reason they're 25-3," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "The breakdowns we had were frustrating. We shouldn't have had them – not at this point in the season."
West Virginia took a 31-30 lead at the half after Cam Thoroughman scored his only field goal of the night off a putback at the buzzer.
The lead change was the seventh of the first half, five coming with five minutes left before the break.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game after a Truck Bryant 3-pointer.
However, Pittsburgh answered with an 11-2 run during a four-minute span to take an 11-9 lead.
West Virginia regained the lead with a Jones 3-pointer, which was followed by a Mitchell shot from beyond the arc, giving the Mountaineers a 17-14 lead.
Pittsburgh went up 28-24 after back-to-back 3-pointers from Gilbert Brown and Travon Woodall, but two Bryant free throws and Thoroughman's bucket put WVU up.
"I'm tired of saying it," Bryant said. "But I thought we could win this game."