PHOTO GALLERY | Basketball Pitt | Wake Forest jumps fast to top Panthers 91-75 | Sports


WINSTON-SALEM, NC — After a tough loss to Boston College Chestnut Hill on Sunday, things only got worse for Pitt’s men’s basketball team as the Panthers fell to Wake Forest, 91-75, at the Joel Coliseum on Wednesday night despite scoring 51 points in the second half.

“I was encouraged that we came out and kept fighting. I wasn’t encouraged by what we did defensively,” Pitt’s coach Jeff Capel said after the loss. I was encouraged by some of the things we did offensively, we scored 51 points in one half in 20 minutes, I’m not sure we did.

“But defensively, that’s where we have to hang our hats. We’re not going to outclass people, that’s not who we are. You have to get serious and do the dirty work. »

“That’s when we put ourselves in a position to win.”

The Panthers never led in the game as the Demon Deacons entered the game as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-scoring offense — behind only No. 9 Duke — averaging 79 points per game. The Demon Deacons showed off their prolific offense by making 15 3-pointers Wednesday night.

Wake Forest started the scoring early, taking a 9-0 lead in the opening 90 seconds of the game. Mohamadou Gueye hit one from beyond the arc to put Pitt on the board before the Demon Deacons went on a 7-0 run. Femi Odukale added his own hat-trick and Pitt trailed 16-6 with less than 16 minutes left in the first half.

Odukale led all scorers with 23 points while shooting 10 of 14 from the floor and 2 of 3 from 3-point range. John Hugley finished the game with 17 points and 12 rebounds, despite only having two points in the first half. Jamarius Burton added 10 points while Gueye scored nine.

Onyebuchi Ezeakudo scored nine, making it 3 of 4 from the floor and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.

Guard Jake Laravia led the Demon Deacons with 18 and went 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Center Dallas Walton scored 16 points and was perfect both on the ground and 3-pointers, going 6-of-6 and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Guard Alondes Williams scored 15 points and added 10 boards. Forward Isaiah Mucius added 14 points and Daivien Williamson scored 12.

The game was never close, but Odukale kept the Panthers early. Odukale was the only player to score in double figures in the first half, posting 11 before halftime.

Odukale’s 23 points are the most he has scored since scoring 28 against Jacksonville on Dec. 21. The second-year guard said a team meeting on Tuesday prompted him to give it his all on Wednesday night. Odukale said he was told by his teammates and coaches that he didn’t play like him and found it difficult to help the team.

“Hearing the others, it sounded like I was letting them down,” Odukale said. “So I didn’t want to let anyone down from now on.”

Odukale said he thought he was too much in his head, but after missing a few easy lay-ups he told himself to calm down and look for more shots.

He said hearing criticism from his coaches and teammates was a red flag.

“Once my teammates and coaches told me that, I said, ‘It’s time to wake up,’ to show everyone what you can do,” Odukale said.

However, the Panthers couldn’t keep pace with Wake Forest’s guns on Wednesday night. Laravia, who leads the ACC with a 58% field goal percentage, had three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game. Williams, the ACC’s leading scorer with an average of 19 points per game, also added nine in the first half.

Wake Forest took a 46-23 halftime lead.

The Panthers started the second half on a 5-0 run with a Hugley layup and a three-pointer from Ezeakudo, but the hole they had dug in the first half was too deep to dig. Pitt again showed resilience. Although the Panthers once trailed as much as 24 points, they shot less than 13 points with less than two minutes left, but it was too little, too late.

Hugley’s 15 points in the second half contrasted with the two he scored in the first half. Capel said he thought it was about Hugley getting comfortable against some of Wake Forest’s bigger players early on. Laravia and Mucius are 6ft 8in tall, while Walton is 7ft tall.

“I thought their length bothered him a bit in the first half. I thought as the game went on he adapted to it and he was able to get some angles, post a little deeper, roll hard on the ball screens and make a few plays to the basket,” Capel said.

Wednesday was the first day Capel was able to meet his team in person after testing positive for COVID-19 minutes before the team flew to Boston on Sunday. Capel reports that he feels fine.

“Today is the first day I’ve seen my team since Sunday morning,” Capel said. “I found out 15 minutes before we were preparing to leave that I was positive, so I didn’t go around them.”

The loss to Wake Forest drops Pitt to 8-14 on the season and 3-8 in the ACC.

Wednesday night kicked off a five-game-in-ten-day streak for the Panthers. They host Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday before traveling to Blacksburg to face the Hokies on Monday in a rescheduled game from Jan. 1. The game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Virginia Tech program. Pitt will then travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State on February 9 before returning home to host North Carolina State on February 12.

Amanda Filipcic-Godsey is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. She covers Pitt football and basketball for CNHI Pa Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaFGodsey.

Amanda Filipcic-Godsey is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. She covers Pitt football and basketball for CNHI Pa Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaFGodsey.


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