PITTSBURGH – Virginia Tech held Pitt senior Lamar Patterson without a point in regulation. The Hokies won the rebounding battle by 15 and held the 25th-ranked Panthers to 37 percent shooting. On most days that would be enough to pull an upset on the road, but the Panthers made some big plays late in regulation and escaped with a 62-57 victory in double overtime.
Junior guard Cameron Wright scored four of his 18 points in the second overtime to lead the Panthers (20-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who reached 20 victories for the 13th consecutive season.
Jarrell Eddie scored 15 points to lead Virginia Tech (8-15, 1-10), which lost its 10 straight. The Hokies have not won since New Year’s Eve when they beat Maryland Eastern Shore. Their one and only ACC victory came more than two months ago at Miami in the conference opener.
“You don’t want to lose to a team you’re supposed to beat,” said Patterson, who finished with five points on 1-for-9 shooting. “It was a tough game. We grinded it out. We just figured out a way to gut it out. That shows big growth.”
Virginia Tech had lost its previous four games by 20 points or more, but the Hokies were in position to win before allowing the Panthers to get back into it late. Pitt trailed by four points with less than a minute remaining, but the Panthers sent the game to overtime when James Robinson converted a four-point play with 33 seconds remaining after getting fouled by Eddie.
“I was just concentrating on making that shot more than drawing the foul,” said Robinson, who had 16 points, three assists and only one turnover in 42 minutes. “He was a little too close, and we got the call.”
All the scoring in the first overtime was on free throws. Virginia Tech freshman Devin Wilson made two with 43 seconds left to tie the score and send it to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, Pitt took control. Patterson made his first field goal of the game for a 54-52 lead and Wright added four consecutive free throws.
“I thought that was a hard-fought, tough ACC battle,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “It was exhausting. Down the stretch guys fouled out and got tired. We fought hard but just didn’t make enough plays. We played hard but we didn’t play smart at all times. Jamie’s guys did a great job of finding a way to win.”
Pitt led by one at halftime and fell behind by five early in the second half. The Panthers did not take the lead again until 6:43 remained in regulation when Robinson, who entered the game shooting 31 percent from 3-point range, made one from behind the arc to give the Panthers a 41-39 lead.
The lead grew to three, but Virginia Tech scored seven consecutive points to take a 48-44 lead. With 33 seconds remaining, Robinson was guarded closely by Eddie, who fouled Robinson on his follow-through. He made the free throw to tie the score.
“That’s probably one of the plays I’m talking about when I say we need to play smarter,” Johnson said. “(Robinson) is a winner. He plays on a winning team. When he knocked the 3 down, I figured he was going to know the free throw down.”
After shooting 52 percent from the field in the first half, Virginia Tech shot 32 percent in the second half and did not make a field goal in either overtime. The Hokies were 0 for 13 from the field after regulation.
Pitt only made one field goal after regulation, but they were 12 for 16 from the free throw line in the overtimes.
Pitt had to find a way to do without an effective Patterson, who injured his thumb in an overtime victory at Miami on Wednesday night. Patterson had a wrap on his hand in the first half. He took it off at halftime, but his play did not improve much after that.
“We’re not going to make excuses,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “Everyone is hurt and banged up. He didn’t practice (Friday) or Thursday. It is what it is.”