PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Morehead State Eagles played the Pitt Panthers even throughout, but a 16-0 run by the home team was the difference as MSU fell at the Petersen Events Center on Sunday afternoon, 72-62.
The loss is Morehead State’s second straight and moves their record to 5-3 on the season. Pitt moves to 8-1.
“I think our guys did a great job. [Pitt] is a physical basketball team, so our guys were mentally prepared for this situation,” said head coach Sean Woods. “As you saw, when Indiana made a run last week, we didn’t recover. We come here, [Pitt] makes a run, they go up 19, and we have an opportunity to make a run and cut it to 10. A couple turnovers here and there cost us a bit, and a foul here and there.”
With two minutes to go in the first half, junior forward DeJuan Marrero‘s layup cut the Pitt lead to 30-28, but the Eagles then went six minutes without scoring. Pitt closed the half on a 5-0 run and went into the locker room with a 35-28 lead and then scored the first 11 points of the second half, opening up the lead to 46-28.
The Panthers’ biggest lead came at 51-32 with 15:01 to play.
But, the Eagles didn’t give in, outscoring the Panthers, 30-21, the rest of the way to trim the final deficit to ten points.
For the Panthers, the story of the game was the play of junior forwards Michael Young and Jamel Artis. They combined for 42 of Pitt’s 72 points and finished the night 22-of-24 from the free throw line. Overall, the Panthers shot 29-of-36 from the line, while MSU shot 11-of-15 from the charity stripe.
Morehead State limited Pitt to just 1-of-13 shooting from three-point range, but the Panthers shot 61 percent from inside the arc and 46 percent overall. The Eagles shot 42 percent from the floor and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. The Eagles were outrebounded by a much bigger team, 37-28, but were outscored just 32-30 in the paint and 11-10 on second chance points. MSU committed just 10 turnovers, while the Panthers turned it over 14 times.
“When you shoot 36 free throws to our 15 on the road, it’s very hard to have a chance to win,” said Woods. “There’s no room for error. We only turned the ball over 10 times and I think we held them to their worst three-point shooting night of the year. I thought from a scouting standpoint we did a good job, except for sending Artis and Young to the line, making 22 free throws. That was tough.”
Senior guard Brent Arrington led the way for MSU with 13 points, his highest scoring game since he put up 14 points in the opener. He scored five early points, but a quick second foul forced him to miss the final 12 minutes of the first half. He finished 6-of-13 from the floor and had a team-high four assists.
Junior guard Corban Collins and senior forward Lyonell Gainesadded 11 points each and Marrero had a team-high eight rebounds.
Despite back-to-back losses, Woods likes where his team is at this point of the season.
“For the most part, I like my basketball team and where we are,” he said. “Our deal is we need to win the OVC to get into the NCAA Tournament. These games do nothing but toughen us up and get us ready for that.”
The Eagles now head out west to face Eastern Washington on Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 9:00 p.m. ET.