Young pushes Pitt past VCU in OT
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) – Sam Young scored 15 points, including a pair
of crucial free throws with just seven seconds remaining, as Pittsburgh held
off VCU, 84-79, in a classic overtime battle in the second round of the NCAA
Aaron Gray posted 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the third-
seeded Panthers (29-7), who advance to NCAA Regional play to battle
UCLA. Those games are slated for Thursday, March 22 and Saturday, March 24.
Mike Cook and Ronald Ramon had 12 points apiece, Cook added eight rebounds,
and Levance Fields finished with 10 points for Pittsburgh.
Jesse Pellot-Rosa and B.A.Walker each scored 20 points for 11th-seeded VCU
(28-7), which posted an upset victory over sixth-seeded Duke University on
Thursday. Eric Maynor chipped in with 14 points, Jamal Shuler finished with
12, and Michael Anderson had six points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the
Rams, who erased a 19-point deficit in the second half.
Gray made a short jumper and a shot from the charity stripe to open a three-
point lead for Pitt in the extra session, but VCU closed the gap to one on a
couple of free throws by Anderson.
Then, after failing to ice the game at the end of regulation, Fields
atoned for the mistake by nailing a huge three to give the Panthers a 75-71
lead at 3:11, and Ramon also drained one from long distance to extend the
edge to 78-71 with 2:17 remaining.
It was a three-point game, 80-77, with 33.5 seconds to play, and Young missed
both free throws to keep it a one-possession game. Maynor then sent a shot off
the glass for VCU to cut the deficit to one, but Pitt went back up by three on
a pair of Cook free throws.
Walker missed a three-point shot for the Rams with just seven seconds to play,
and the rebound got tipped back toward half court and through the legs of
Young, who drew a foul during the scramble. He then iced the game by making
both shots from the line.
With the Panthers already holding a 15-point lead at the half, Keith
Benjamin’s shot off the glass made it a 19-point cushion at 12:13 in the
VCU went on a 10-2 run at that point, however, ignited by a Franck Ndongo
layup and capped with Maynor’s bucket at 9:58 to pull the Rams within 11.
Pitt answered with five straight points, but VCU responded with back-to-
back treys to get within 10.
The rally continued for the Rams, who tied the game, 67-67, on Walker’s shot
from beyond the arc at 1:44, then took the lead for the first time on
Pellot-Rosa’s layup with 52 seconds remaining in the contest.
Pittsburgh quickly went back down the court and tied it at 69-69 on Young’s
layup. Fields pulled down the rebound and was subsequently fouled, but his
potential game-wining free throw bounced off the front of the rim to send the
game to OT.
Neither side held a clear advantage in the opening minutes, but the Panthers
finally stormed ahead when Benjamin’s short jumper ignited a 13-4 run
for Pittsburgh, which led 24-15 at 8:30.
The Rams made it a five-point game, but Graves followed with a layup and a
jumper on consecutive possessions, and the Pittsburgh advantage stood at 28-19
with 6:17 remaining in the first half.
Shuler’s three-point shot momentarily stopped the bleeding for VCU, but
the Panthers continued to pour it on down the stretch. Ramon scored five
straight points to extend the Pitt lead to 12 at 4:15, and the Rams made
just one more shot from the field before the break.
Pittsburgh led 41-26 at intermission.
Pitt will be making its fourth appearance in school history in the round of
16…The Panthers are playing in the NCAA Tournament for a school record sixth
consecutive season…Pittsburgh had been bounced in the first round seven
times in its previous 18 appearances in the tourney…The Rams last appeared
in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1985.