PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Having as many turnovers as made baskets typically isn’t the right formula for winning basketball games.
Pitt discovered that Thursday night against West Virginia, losing 66-48 in what may have been the final edition of the Backyard Brawl.
The Panthers struggled to take care of the ball all night and couldn’t overcome a woeful second half shooting effort. They shot just 7-of-24 (29 percent) from the field in the second half after trailing by just one at halftime, 26-25.
Pitt managed just 17 baskets all night while turning the ball over an equal 17 times.
“It started with the turnovers,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It got us into a hole and got us down right away.”
The Panthers trailed 33-31 with with 15 minutes remaining in the game before the Mountaineers went on a 20-5 run to effectively seal the victory. Pitt guards Ashton Gibbs and Tray Woodall struggled to get the offense moving and, in turn, WVU was able to force turnovers.
Those turnovers turned into baskets, as West Virginia scored 23 points off Pitt turnovers on the night.
“They were denying every pass,” said Woodall, who was responsible for four turnovers. “We weren’t doing a good enough job of getting open. They had nine steals. They turned our turnovers into baskets. That was definitely the big key. Once again, I didn’t control the ball.”
WVU also controlled the glass, outrebounding Pitt, 33-26. Forward Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers with 13 rebounds and scored 16 points to lead all scorers.
Truck Bryant scored 15 points, Deniz Kilicli added 14 and Gary Browne tallied 12 as other West Virginia players in double-figures.
Woodall was the only Panther in double-figures Thursday night, scoring 12 points on just 5-of-16 shooting.
“We’re trying to get into the NCAA tournament,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We know we have to win some games.”