Pittsburgh ― Pittsburgh started the game shooting 3s and missing most of them.
In the first half of Saturday’s game against Syracuse, the Panthers took 21 shots from 3-point range and made only five of them. The game stayed close with Pitt leading 37-33 at the break.
But the Panthers were undeterred and kept launching 3s.
Eventually, Pitt began connecting. In the second half, the Panthers went 11-for-20 from the 3-point line and romped to a 99-82 victory over the Orange in front of a jubilant crowd at the Petersen Events Center.
The Panthers finished the game with 16 3-pointers on a season-high 41 attempts.
The game ended with Pitt coach Jeff Capel sending in his walk-ons as the Oakland Zoo, Pitt’s student section, roared in approval. The Pete exploded when senior walk-on Aiden Fisch scored the game’s last basket.
Pitt’s 99 points were the most scored against Syacuse this season and the most since the Orange lost 100-85 to Colgate on Nov. 20, 2021.
Syracuse has now given up more than 90 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2005-06 season when DePaul and Villanova beat the Orange. In its previous game on Wednesday, Syracuse suffered a 91-73 loss to Clemson.
In its 84-82 win over Syracuse at the JMA Dome on Dec. 20, Pitt had made 13 3-pointers on 32 attempts. The Panthers increased their efforts from the 3-point line in the second meeting with the Orange.
Pittsburgh entered the game as the ACC’s leader in 3-pointers attempted per game at 25.7. Five different Pitt players made a 3-pointer. Blake Hinson led the barrage with 22 points, including six 3-pointers on 17 attempts.
Pittsburgh has beaten Syracuse in four of the teams’ last five meetings.
Syracuse sophomore Benny Williams, starting for the first time in over a month, scored a career-high 24 points. Joe Girard scored 19, Jesse Edwards had 17 and Judah Mintz finished with 16. But it wasn’t enough to match Pitt’s offensive highlight reel.
Syracuse’s third-straight loss, all by at least 17 points, dropped the Orange to 16-13 on the season and 9-9 in the ACC.
Syracuse’s three-game slump also includes a 22-point home loss to Duke and Wednesday’s 18-point shellacking at Clemson.
Pittsburgh, which last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and hasn’t advanced to the tournament’s second weekend since 2009, boasts a 21-8 overall record. After winning eight of their last nine games, the Panthers lead the ACC with 14-4 league record.
Pittsburgh led 37-33 at halftime and, in some respects, Syracuse was lucky to be in the game after getting little production from two of its top scorers.
Edwards managed just five points on 2-for-5 shooting in the first half, while Mintz had only three points.
Mintz, who originally committed to Pittsburgh before changing his mind and coming to Syracuse, was heckled and taunted by the Pitt student section whenever he touched the ball.
In lieu of Edwards and Mintz stepped Williams. The 6-8 sophomore started for the first time since losing his starting spot in SU’s game at Virginia Tech on Jan. 28. Williams responded with 11 first-half points.
Pitt could have had a much larger lead, but the Panthers couldn’t find the range from the 3-point line. Pitt went 5-for-21 from outside the arc in the first half.
Syracuse.com will debut a documentary film on Syracuse basketball’s 2003 NCAA championship team on March 29 at the Landmark Theatre. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, click here.
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