Pitt can't rally past No. 17 Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It's been a long time between wins for Pittsburgh. That doesn't mean the Panthers have forgotten how to string together a victory.
J.J. Moore scored 16 points and Dante Taylor added 11, but Pittsburgh fell 57-54 against No. 17 Louisville on Sunday for the Panthers' fifth straight loss.
"We don't have to learn how to win again. We know how to win," Moore said. "We just have to execute a lot of plays. We play hard every day. The team knows how to win. We know how to win and we just have to put it out there on the court."
Dante Taylor scored 11 points as Pittsburgh (15-14, 4-12 Big East) cut the lead to one and had three chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but Tray Woodall missed a jumper and senior Ashton Gibbs' shot from just inside halfcourt as time expired missed off the back iron.
"We felt it was a game we should have won and it just got away from us," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "We battled through a lot of things. We were down, we had foul trouble, came back and obviously had an opportunity at the end. (We're) disappointed in the loss."
Russ Smith scored 18 points, Kyle Kuric added 17, including a key 3-pointer late as the shot clock expired that gave Louisville (22-7, 10-6) a 53-48 lead with 3:25 left.
That was the last scoring until the final sequence.
Woodall added hit a fadeaway shot over Kuric and Lamar Patterson found Taylor for a dunk with 28 seconds to go that made it 53-52.
Louisville freshman Chane Behanan then had two chances to ice the game. The 60 percent free-throw shooter missed the first in a one-and-one situation, but Woodall missed a jumper and Behanan was fouled with 13 seconds left.
After he hit both, Woodall drove to the hoop, scoring with 5.2 seconds to play.
"I think it's a tough call, but obviously we didn't win so it can be questioned at this point afterward," Dixon said. "I guess it has to be."
The Panthers fouled Peyton Siva just over a second later and Siva made both to finish with 11 points. On the final play, Moore found Gibbs, who dribbled just past the halfcourt line and got a good look that would've tied the game, but hit off the back iron to end it.
"It was a good opportunity for us to come back and try and get in the groove and get the W but we fell short," Moore said. "We made some flaws on the defensive end and we made some flaws on the offensive end. It just fell through."
Smith took over midway through the second half with the Cardinals trailing 38-35. Smith scored nine straight points for Louisville, capping his spurt with a 3-pointer that made it 44-40 with 9:22 left.
On the next possession, Louisville center Gorgui Dieng blocked a shot and then tipped an inbounds pass to Siva that started a break that Kuric finished with a reverse layup. Pittsburgh's bench was called for a technical foul and Kuric hit the second of two free throws to make it 47-40 with 8:31 left.
Pittsburgh had one more rally and Moore's basket cut it to 50-48, but Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with a chance to tie, and Kuric hit a straightaway 3-pointer from 22 feet with the shot clock at 1 to put the Cardinals up 53-48 with 3:25 to go.
The Panthers have been hampered by injuries all season and Woodall (flu, groin), Nasir Robinson (left knee) and Gibbs (left ankle) missed parts of practice this week as the team has slumped following high preseason expectations.
There were brief glimpses of what Pittsburgh could've been, including a six-point spurt to start the second half that gave the Panthers a 30-25 lead, but Louisville answered when Siva hit a tough layup, made the first of two free throws and found Kuric for a 3-pointer to give Louisville a 31-30 lead.
The matchup had the feel of a Sunday pickup game with both sides trying to dribble through the other team's zone looks.
On one possession, Smith nearly lost the ball out of bounds on a pass as coach Rick Pitino slapped his hands in his knees in disbelief. Passing proved to be a problem for Pittsburgh, too, when the ball from Woodall went right through Gibbs' hands without any pressure at midcourt as the teams combined for 33 turnovers.
"Turnovers are what really hurt us," Dixon said. "It's disappointing for us because I really thought we had a good week, we were able to finally work on some things, especially the last two days. So it's disappointing to come up short."