MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In the 188th edition of the Backyard Brawl, West Virginia defeated Pitt 74-59, as the Panthers struggled to maintain possession.
The Panthers (0-2) turned over the ball to the Mountaineers (2-0) 32 times; WVU scored 34 points off of the Pitt mistakes.
From the start, West Virginia and Pitt proved that the rivalry didn’t lose much of its firepower from the one-year pause in the series. Some back-and-forth play, with a lot of jump balls and scrappy play. It seemed like Pitt did not enjoy Gabe Osabuohien’s intensity on the floor, as Pitt G Femi Odukale got in it with Osabuohien.
For the rest of the first half, Pitt struggled to get a shot up, committing 18 turnovers in the first half. When they did shoot the ball, they shot it pretty well: 10-of-20 from the field.
The Mountaineers’ three-point struggles from the Oakland season opener diminished as Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil made a combined four three-pointers in the first half.
West Virginia headed into the locker room at the half with a 36-24 lead.
Out of the break, it was the same story from the first half: Pitt turnovers. A slam dunk by Jalen Bridges and a three by Sherman forced Pitt head coach Jeff Capel to call a timeout early on in the second half.
With the Mountaineers up 17 with 16:40 to-go, Pitt went on a 7-0 run behind John Hugley to cut the deficit to 10. Hugley finished with 17 points and six rebounds after his 27 and 10, respectively, performance on Tuesday night against The Citadel.
Malik Curry and Sherman punched the Panthers back with a run of their own, as WVU went 10-3 on the next times down the court. The run was capped off by a Bridges’ three-pointer.
The threes by West Virginia were too much for Pitt to handle, as the Mountaineers cruised to a 74-59 win.
Bridges led the way with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Other notable scorers were Sherman with 17, McNeil with 11 and Curry with 10.
Unlike Tuesday night against Oakland, West Virginia was able to knock down threes. WVU shot 9-of-22 (45%) from three, with McNeil and Bridges having great nights from beyond the arc. McNeil made a trio of threes, while Bridges swished four.
With the win, WVU extends its win streak over Pitt to five games, dating back to 2012. The team also earned its 100th victory in the Backyard Brawl. Head coach Bob Huggins earned his No. 902 career win, tying Bob Knight on the all-time wins list.
West Virginia will now look ahead to the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic in Charleston, South Carolina, which the Mountaineers will play from Nov. 18-19. The Mountaineers will take on Elon in the first round, next Thursday night, at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
(Top Photo: Kelsie LeRose – WVSN)