New Blood in the Backyard Brawl
The West Virginia Mountaineers visit the Pete for a non-conference early season game. Both Pitt and West Virginia come in at 1-0 with big victories in their first time out. Pitt beat UT-Martin 80-58 while West Virginia took care of Mount St. Mary’s 76-58. The student sections for both schools were chanting it up 30 minutes before the tip off. The Backyard Brawl of 2022 is on.
West Virginia would not waste any time as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a three pointer and a layup. The Panthers started out very sloppy with 3 turnovers in the first minute but settled in behind some sharp shooting of Greg Elliott the graduate Sr. from Detroit, Michigan. Both teams would have little runs in them, but each team would also turn the ball over continuously in the half. The Mountaineers would take advantage of some easy baskets as well as some big Pitt fouls to start to build a lead with 5 minutes to go in the half. West Virginia shot a lights out 65.4% from the field in the first half including 4-9 from 3-point territory. Pitt would hit 50% of their shots in the half and were led by Greg Elliott’s 12 points. WVU was led by Joe Toussaint’s 10. West Virginia would see its lead balloon to 11 as Kedrian Johnson would take a turnover in for a layup to give the Mountaineers a 47-36 lead at the half.
The Panthers would not find that spark they needed in the second half. Pitt would at one point cut it to 10 as Nelly Cummings had two nifty baskets in a row but Cummings would foul out with 7:39 to go in the game. 10 points would be as close as Pitt would get to the Mountaineers as Erik Stevenson and Joe Toussaint would be too much for the Panthers to handle on this night. West Virginia would end up running away with an 81-56 win. Toussaint would end up with 18 points while Stevenson added 16 for the Mountaineers. The Panthers were led by Jamarius Burton’s 16 points.
Pitt not having John Hugley was huge but as Jeff Capel said after the game it had nothing to do with this loss. Capel said to give credit to the Mountaineers for their constant pressure and team defense. This Panthers team is different than the past years, they can score inside and out and once they get “their” lineup back in there they will be in a lot more games in 2022-2023 than in the past. I am not saying they are going to the NCAA tourney this season, but I believe at times you may get some thoughts in your head. As Capel said it was a tough loss, but he is glad it happened early in season to see what this team is made of, and he has no doubt they will rebound from this.
It does not get any easier for the Panthers as they battle #16 Michigan in the Legends Classic November 16th.