Pittsburgh, PA— Reece Beekman Beekman scored 19 points, Jayden Garner chipped in 14 to help Virginia beat the Pitt Panthers 66-61 on Wednesday night.
It was the Cavaliers eighth straight win over the Panthers, Virginia (11-7, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) moved its all-time record against Pitt to 19-4 in a series that started in the 1957-58 season.
Virginia led 29-25 at the break, and Kihei Clark’s trey with 7:29 left gave the Cavaliers a 54-44 advantage. The Panthers outscored Virginia 15-7 over the next six minutes and crept to 62-59 on a pair of free throws by Femi Odukale.
“There were about eight or nine plays in there that if we can destroy ‘almost,’ it becomes ‘we’ve got it’ and maybe we put ourselves in a position to win,” Capel said Monday on the ACC coaches teleconference, two days before Pitt was set to square off against Virginia again.
With the loss, Pitt shot 50% overall – their second-best percentage in a game this season – made 81.8% of their 22 free throws and scored 61 points on 58 possessions.
Armaan Franklin made a layup with 26 seconds left to go in the game and Clark sank two foul shots with nine seconds left to seal it for Virginia.
The Panthers tied the score at 33 after coming out of the break trailing by four points, but the Cavaliers created some separation in the final three minutes of the contest.
Virginia shot 4 for 17 from downtown, while the Panthers was 1 for 6 from beyond the arc. Kadin Shedrick made all six of his shot attempts and scored 12 points for the Cavaliers. Beekman dished out eight of Virginia’s 19 assists on its 27-for-54 shooting.
“We didn’t defend well enough,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said. “A team shot 60% in a half against us. You’re not going to win many games like that, man. It doesn’t matter what you do offensively, unless you’re hitting a ton of 3s, which that’s not who we are.”
Beekman slam dunk gave his team a seven-point lead with about 13 minutes remaining in the contest and even when the Panthers trimmed the lead to one, 45-44, the Cavaliers push the tempo, sprinting off a 9-0 run in 1:51, capped off by a Clark long 3, to go up by 10 with 7:29 left to play in the contest.
“It really was just defensive fatigue,” Burton said. “We couldn’t finish the plays off. We’d play great defense for the majority of the play clock, and then they’d capitalize on us in the last second. Coach said it would be like that, and we just came up short today.”
John Hugley scored 23 points, Jamarius Burton had 12 and Odukale chipped in 10 for the Panthers (7-11, 2-5).
“We didn’t defend well enough,” Capel said. “A team shot 60% in a half against us. You’re not going to win many games like that, man. It doesn’t matter what you do offensively, unless you’re hitting a ton of 3s, which that’s not who we are.”
Including Wednesday’s result, four of Pitt’s five losses against ACC opponents this season have come by five or fewer points.
Virginia, winners of four of its last six, travels to North Carolina State on Saturday. Pitt heads to Clemson on Saturday.