Non-conference play featured its share of ups and downs for Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, but each team has generated a bit of momentum heading into Tuesday night’s clash on the Panthers’ home court.
The Panthers (5-7, 0-1) and Fighting Irish (6-5, 0-1) each played one Atlantic Coast Conference game earlier this month, with disappointing results. Notre Dame trailed by as many as 23 in a 16-point loss to Boston College, while Pitt fell on a last-second bucket against Virginia.
Both teams, however, have won their past two games heading to the meaty part of conference play.
Pitt is coming off a 64-55 triumph Tuesday over Jacksonville in which Femi Odukale matched a career high with 28 points. The Panthers’ defense stepped up as well, holding its opponent below 60 points for the fifth time in the past six games.
“That’s kind of the identity of Pittsburgh: brick by brick, working hard,” said Pitt’s Mouhamadou Gueye, who contributed 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. “We know we have shortages on offense … so we have to find another way to get these wins, and we realize it’s going to start on the defensive end, playing really gritty, making hustle plays and using our energy.”
Notre Dame hit 16 3-pointers in its most recent game, an 83-73 victory Wednesday over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Fighting Irish have scored at least 80 points in consecutive games for the first time all season.
Dan Goodwin scored 21 points on 5-of-7 3-point shooting for Notre Dame, while Cormac Ryan went 4-of-5 from long distance off the bench en route to 14 points. Coach Mike Brey’s squad led by just one with about 10 minutes remaining before pulling away.
“I have to give the guys credit to find a way to escape,” Brey said. “I’m thrilled that we found a way to get out of here.”
Notre Dame has won five of its past six matchups with Pitt. The Irish won 84-58 last January as Ryan scored 19 points and made five of the squad’s 13 3-pointers.
–Field Level Media