Pitt Hoops Needs Double OT to Beat Eastern Michigan

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team opened the 2016-17 season and the Kevin Stallings era in thrilling fashion with a hard-fought 93-90 double-overtime victory over Eastern Michigan Friday at the Petersen Events Center in the opening round of the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. Seniors Jamel Artis and Michael Young anchored the Panther attack with a combined 53 points, including 15 of Pitt’s 21 points in the overtime stanzas.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Pitt jumped out to a 40-31 halftime lead behind the strong play of Young, who recorded 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in the opening 20 minutes of play. He knocked down 4-of-5 attempts from the field including a three-pointer with 4:04 left in the half to extend Pitt’s lead to 33-26. The Panthers scored the final five points of the half on a Justice Kithcart three-pointer and a pair of free throws from Sheldon Jeter for the nine-point edge at intermission.

The Panthers pushed out to the nine-point advantage despite going just 4-of-17 from behind the arc in the first half.

After an early run in the second half by Eastern Michigan trimmed the deficit to 42-40, Pitt countered with a 9-0 run to grab a 51-40 lead with 14:24 remaining. The Panthers maintained a comfortable margin over the next eight minutes and led 64-52 with 7:45 remaining after a three-point field goal by Artis.

Eastern Michigan battled back with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to two points with 4:36 remaining. Young collected a deflected pass in the lane and dunked over a pair of Eagle defenders to extend the Pitt lead. Eastern Michigan responded with a 10-6 run to close the half and force overtime on a Ty Toney layup with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

Pitt struck first in overtime with a pair of Chris Jones free throws but EMU countered with a three-point play from Ray Lee to take its first lead of the game at 75-74. The Panthers trailed by three points a couple of times over the next two minutes of action before pulling ahead 82-81 with 55 seconds remaining on a Young and-one layup. Ray Lee hit a tough jumper from just outside the foul line to regain the lead before Artis split a pair of free throws with 32 seconds remaining to tie the score for the eighth time. Pitt’s defense forced a 35-foot heave from Lee on the ensuing possession and Jeter missed a heavily contested three at the buzzer to send the game into a second overtime session.

The Eagles jumped ahead on a pair of Nick Madray free throws before Young countered with two more from the charity stripe for the ninth tie of the game. Jeter knocked down a baseline jumper on Pitt’s next possession to give the Panthers a two-point lead they would not relinquish. Jones knocked down a pair of free throws and Artis went 4-of-4 from the stripe as Pitt held off a late flourish from Lee to secure its 20th consecutive season opening win and the first of Stallings tenure at Pitt.

Lee finished with 27 points for Eastern Michigan, while Tim Bond had 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field before fouling out at the end of regulation. MAC Preseason Player of the Year selection James Thompson finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.

In addition to Artis and Young, Pitt also received double-digit scoring efforts from Jeter (12 points) and Jones (10 points). The Panthers’ four seniors combined by 75 points, 31 rebounds and 14 assists in the game.

Pitt, now 58-1 all-time in the month of November at the Petersen Events Center, returns to action Monday, Nov. 14 with a 7 p.m. contest against Gardner-Webb. Monday’s game marks the second game of the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project.

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