By Kevin Sweeney
Yale stood toe-to-toe with another perennial power, but couldn’t pull out a resumé-boosting win over Pittsburgh Tuesday night at the “Oakland Zoo”. The Bulldogs were in it the entire way, but Pitt was able to pull out a 75-70 victory behind Michael Young’s 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The first half was extremely close throughout, as neither team was able to extend more than a 7 point lead at any point. Yale began the half with a slight edge, snatching a seven point lead with just under ten minutes to play in the half with three’s on back-to-back possessions by Alex Copeland and Miye Oni. However, Pitt responded with an extended 17-5 run over 8:03 of game time to take the lead. It was Young who keyed the run for the Panthers, scoring 8 of the team’s 17 points during the run. A 3-point play by Copeland with a second to play in the half narrowed the Pitt lead to just two at the half.
Pitt began to get separation on the Bulldogs in the early stages in the second half, extending their lead to eleven with 13:21 to play in the ballgame. The Panthers were able to use their size advantage on the inside to get good looks and get to the free throw line, where they shot an excellent 18-23 on the game.
“In the second half, we took the ball to the paint, got to the line, and it was the difference tonight.” Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings said. (@Pitt_mbb/Twitter)
Yale did not go quietly though, using the 3-point shot to stay in the game. At one point, the Bulldogs hit three’s on three consecutive possessions, a 9-2 run that cut the deficit to 57-53 with 5:48 to play. However, Pitt had the answer, with Cameron Johnson draining 3 triples in the span of 1:07 to give the Panthers a nine point lead at the final media timeout.
The pesky Bulldogs continued to fight, clawing back within three with 49 seconds to play on a 3-pointer by Blake Reynolds. However, instead of trying to get a stop and get the ball back, Yale elected to foul right away, and Pitt continued to make its free throws, making it very difficult for Yale to come back.
Sam Downey led the way for Yale with 17 points, while Copeland contributed 16 points off the bench. In addition to Young’s 24, Pitt got 20 points from Jamel Artis and 15 from Johnson.