Sweet Sweep

It was the same story, just in a different venue, as WVU rallied from a double-digit deficit to dump Pitt 70-66 at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday evening.

Just as they did 18 days ago, West Virginia rode a hot second half to rally and send the Panthers packing. This time, WVU rallied from a 14-point deficit with 9:29 to play and outscored the shocked Panthers 28-10 from that point on to turn what was a partisan Pitt crowd into a booing, grumbling group. The Panthers' last field goal came on a Chevon Troutman layup with 7:26 to go, and they didn't help themselves any by missing six free throws down the stretch.

"I loved the way our kids hung in when things weren't going their way," head coach John Beilein said. "Kevin started making some threes and we started driving the ball. We just wanted to get it close late. People tend to shoot better when they have nothing to lose."

"Kevin" of course, is Pitt-killer Pittsnogle, who scored 20 of his game-high 22 points after the break.

The win, which might be the biggest of Beilein's tenure, put WVU squarely atop the NCAA tournament bubble.

"It might be [our biggest win]," Beilein said. "Anytime you can get a road win in this league, it's big, but this is a nice one. I don't care who you are playing, winning on the road is hard."

Pitt seemed control for the first 30 minutes of the contest, building leads as large as 11 points in the opening period. The Panthers dominated the boards, with sophomore center Chris Taft racking up nine in the first half alone to help the home team go into the locker room with a 34-24 lead.

West Virginia was outrebounded by 22-11 and shot just 34% in the first half as they fell behind by ten points at the break. The Mountaineers led by one point at 14-13 midway through the opening period, but the Panthers clamped down on defense to fuel a 21-10 run that gave them the double-digit half time lead.

After scoring their first 14 points, WVU rarely got a good look at the basket, committing two shot clock violations and barely beating the buzzer on several other occasions in the face of Pitt's tough switching man-to-man defense.

Although the Panthers continued with their in-your-face defensive strategy, WVU came out smoking in the second half, hitting 72% of their shots in the period. Pitt, on the strength of inside play by Troutman and Taft, matched WVU poitn for point through the first ten minutes, of the second half, but were unable to maintain that pace.

Pitt finished the contest with a 39-22 rebounding advantage, but WVU's offensive efficiency and superior shooting more than offset that gap. The Mountaineers hit 15-17 shots from the free throw line, and didn't miss one until 13 seconds remained in the game. Pitt, meanwhile was just 15-24 from the line.

It was the same story from three-point land. WVU hit 11 of 26 from downtown, while Pitt managed just three successful tries in 11 attempts.

Patrick Beilein had 12 points and Joe Herber 11 to join Pittsnogle in double figures. Tyrone Sally fought off a shoulder bruise to score nine points, while D'or Fischer added eight.

WVU returns home to face Rutgers Saturday at a sold-out WVU Coliseum for Senior Day.

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