Pitt leaves Madison Square Garden floor with third-place finish in 2K Classic and victory over Marquette. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
NEW YORK - Consolation games can be less than thrilling. Teams disappointed in losing the semifinal often go through the motions. Not in this one. Not a chance has neither team wanted to exit Madison Square Garden.
Pitt earned a hard-fought win, battling back from a double-digit halftime deficit to edge Marquette, 78-75. The win gave the Panthers a split and third place in the 2K Classic. Pitt is 3-1, while Marquette drops to 2-2.
Pitt entered the last four minutes with a 75-71 lead. Over those final minutes, oddly enough, neither team scored a field goal. All the points came from the charity stripe.
A closer look at the Pitt defense those last four minutes saw Marquette had seven possessions. All four of their points came on free throws, and Pitt did force the Golden Eagles into five missed field goal attempts and a turnover. Four points in seven possessions, good for a game-deciding 57 defensive efficiency.
Possessions: Pitt 74, Marquette 77
Offensive efficiency: Pitt 105, Marquette 97
eFG%: Pitt 53, Marquette 45
Free Throw Rate: Pitt 46, Marquette 29
Offensive Rebound%: Pitt 18, Marquette 20
Turnover Rate: Pitt 15, Marquette 14
Leading scorers and EF:
Pitt: Michael Young 30 points, EF 43 (1.19 per minute)
Marquette: Andrew Rowsey 20 points, EF 23
What Pitt did well: Defend the second half and fight back from an 11-point deficit at the half.
What Marquette did well: Take good care of the ball with a low turnover rate and enjoy an 11-3 edge in second chance points.
FOREVER YOUNG: With apologies to Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan, Pitt senior Michael Young led the way numbers-wise. The contributions transcended the digits, as Young was the first option to carry the Panthers in the second half when they dearly craved guidance and direction. From the 12-minute to 4-minute mark of the second half, Pitt turned a six-point deficit into a four-point lead. The Panthers scored ten field goals, with Young accounting for half. He was the game changer with a contribution that transcends numbers.
“At halftime, it was a look yourself in the mirror moment. We lost the first game and wanted to do something to come back and get the win. It was now or never.” - Pitt’s Michael Young
“Second half, we were more energized on the defensive end and that was the difference. Defense won the game for us. Proud of our guys, they dug in and played the defense we need to be successful. We talked all last night and today about somebody leaving with the doughnut. We didn’t want it to be us. Our defense was great the final possession. I was really pleased with that. As good as our defense was the second half, we ran some very good offense, especially down the stretch.” - Pitt coach Kevin Stallings
“We had two halves of basketball. On two nights, we gave up basically 50 points. You cannot do that and win in college basketball. I admire what Michael Young did. That’s how a senior should play. I would love to see our veterans play like their veterans. I thought the quality of our shots was not good the second half. Guys started playing too much one-on-one.” - Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski