PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — No. 9 Pitt (2-1) had its 58-game home non-conference winning streak snapped Wednesday night by Long Beach State, 86-76.
The 49ers (2-0) went on an 11-2 run midway through the first half to take a 23-16 lead and Pitt couldn’t recover. The Panthers were outplayed in nearly every facet of the game, as Long Beach outshot, outrebounded and outhustled Pitt on the evening.
“We got beat every which way,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
LBSU guard Casper Ware was the biggest thorn in Pitt’s side, scoring 28 points and adding six assists to lead the 49ers. As Pitt tried to close the gap late in the game, Ware seemed to always have an answer.
“They wanted it more than us,” forward Nasir Robinson said. “They worked harder. They ran harder. They got to loose balls. They executed better than us. They outsmarted us.”
After the Panthers closed the gap to 68-61 on an Ashton Gibbs 3-pointer with 7:41 remaining, Ware hit two free throws, a 3-pointer and a layup after a Tray Woodall turnover to extend the Long Beach lead back to 12, 75-63.
Gibbs hit a jumper to pull within six with 1:21 to play but Ware had an answer once again, running the floor for a layup after a Gibbs’ missed 3-pointer to push the lead to eight, 84-76, and effectively put the game out of reach.
It was a telling stat line, as Ware and Gibbs went head to head most of the night. LBSU did a good job of limiting Gibbs’ touches in the first half and held him mostly in check all night. Gibbs finished with 20 points, mustering just 10 in the game’s opening 30 minutes.
“It’s a big win but we expected to win this,” Ware said. “Everybody in the locker room knew we were going to win this game.”
As a team Pitt shot just 46 percent from the field to nearly 60 percent by Long Beach. Robinson was Pitt’s most consistent scorer with 19 points. Woodall had 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting and five turnovers and saw his minutes limited in the second half because of foul trouble.
The 49ers had three other players in double figures along with Ware: James Ennis (19 points), Larry Anderson (12 points) and T.J. Robinson (11 points).
The Panthers were outrebounded, 26-25.
“We knew they were very good and we wanted to play someone very good,” Dixon said. “They’re an experienced team. I had anticipated us being a much better team this time and, obviously, we’re not where I’d like us to be.”