For a second consecutive game, the Pitt men's basketball team knocked off a ranked opponent out of the Big East Tournament. In addition to that, the Panthers avenged another loss from the regular season. The Panthers advanced to its seventh Big East Championship in the last eight seasons, with a 68-61 win over Marquette.
Pitt will take on Georgetown, for a second year in a row, in the conference championship game. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. from Madison Square Garden.
In the process, the Panthers improve to 25-9, while Marquette drops to 24-9. The Panthers have ended Louisville's Big East run three years in a row. Tonight, the Panthers knocked Marquette out for a second year in a row.
Pitt is now the first program in Big East history to reach seven Big East Championships in eight years. Connecticut reached the Championship game eight times in 10 years (1995-2004). Syracuse made the Championship game eight times in 11 years (1980-1990).
On top of that, the Panthers add to an impressive overall record in the Big East Tournament, especially as of late. Pitt has won 18 of its last 24 Big East Tournament games, while head coach Jamie Dixon is 10-4 overall.
Pitt was once again led by Sam Young, who scored a game-high 22 points. Though he only had four rebounds and three steals, Young's defensive presence was felt once again. He played 39 minutes, coming off a career-high 42 minutes the night before.
The Golden Eagles average nine three-pointers a game. They had seven tonight, and shot just 31 percent from the field (19-of-61). Marquette averages 45 percent shooting, per game, on the season. Jerel McNeal had 17 points to lead the Golden Eagles. The Panthers' perimeter defense held Dominic James and Wesley Matthews in check. James averages 41.6 percent shooting on the season. He had his worst shooting night of the season, going 3-of-16 (18.8%). Matthews averages 44.1 percent shooting on the season. Tonight against the Panthers, he was just 2-of-7. The Panthers also forced 16 Marquette turnovers.
Marquette outrebounded the Panthers 41-30, including a 17-8 edge on the offensive boards.
Pitt was successful from the free throw line down the stretch. The Panthers started off just 8-of-19, but finished the game 8-for-9. Young was a perfect 4-for-4, and Fields was 6-of-8.
In addition to Young, the Panthers had 14 points from Ronald Ramon and 12 from Levance Fields. Ramon and Fields played a big part in the Panthers shutting down Marquette's offense. Tyrell Biggs came off the bench to lead Pitt with eight rebounds. Pitt was without DeJuan Blair, who got in some foul trouble again. Biggs filled in admirably for Blair. Marquette went the final nine minutes of the first half without a field goal.
The Panthers led the Golden Eagles by 13 at halftime, and built a 40-24 within the first two minutes of the second half. Marquette brought the game to within three points later in the second half. The Panthers used its successful 8-of-9 free throw stretch, to help preserve the win.