Pitt falls to Marquette 77-74 in the Sweet 16

The Panthers found themselves down by 11 points late in the second half, but a fierce comeback fell just short. Down 71-61, Pitt went on a 9-0 run and pulled within one point but couldn't get over the hump. The game was evenly fought in the first half and both teams went to the locker room sitting on a tied game. The difference in the second half was Marquette star Dwayne Wade.

Held to only 2 points in the first half, Wade got hot and scorched the Panthers to 20 second half points. He looked like the best that Pitt's played against all season. He got some help from Robert Jackson who added 16 points for Marquette. Marquette shot 52% and their offense looked as good as advertised.

Pitt's defense, normally a strong point, struggled all night leaving players open inside whenever Wade wasn't drilling shots from the outside.

Brandin Knight played a strong game and finished with 16 points. Brandin handled himself with class and never seemed to get rattled while other players did. Chevon Troutman added 15 points and helped lead the comeback that just fell short. Chevon moves into a starting position next season and should be an outstanding player. Jaron Brown also added 14 points and played very well once again. The Panthers out-rebounded Marquette 30-28, but lost the battle of turnovers 12-10.

Another factor that hurt the Panther's was Ontario Lett getting into early foul trouble again. It is something he has struggled with for a good portion of his senior season.

The Panthers finished the season with a 28-5 record and a combined record of 57-11 over the last two seasons. The Panthers won their first ever Big East Tournament this season and made it to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.

Despite finishing a game short of what this Panther fan expected the team to achieve this year, you had to be proud of the team's performance this season. This team, and this group of players, took the Panther program from being a below average program to the best team in the Big East Conference over the last two seasons.

They created a big buzz about the program and overachieved, but the best may be yet to come. The Panthers return two outstanding starters in Brown and Page, plus their best inside player in Chevon Troutman. They also will have the services of two impressive red shirt freshmen and several more talented true freshmen. The future is bright, keep that in mind when reflecting on this disappointing end to the season. Thanks to seniors Brandin Knight, Donatas Zavackas and Ontario Lett for all the great performances during their fantastic careers!

--Brian Gold

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