Pittsburgh, Pa. (Dec. 19, 2017) --- Delaware State cut a 27-point deficit to two late in the game, but Pittsburgh hit crucial free throws down the stretch to post a 74-68 win over the Hornets at the Peterson Events Center this evening.
DSU trailed 37-10 with five minutes left in the first half and was down 44-22 at intermission before charging back. The Hornets outscored the Panthers 12-3 to start the second half and continued to chip away at the deficit throughout the period.
Delaware State pulled to within 64-61 after a jumper by freshman guard Pinky Wiley at the 2:04 mark of the second half.
After a three-pointer by Khameron Davis gave Pittsburgh a 67-61 lead with 53 seconds left, the Hornets outscored the Panthers 7-3 over the next half-minute. Artem Tavakalyan capped off the spurt with a three-pointer from the right corner to cut Pitt’s lead to 70-68 with 22 seconds remaining.
The Panthers opened up a 72-68 lead when Jonathan Milligan nailed two free throws with 14 seconds left.
On the ensuing DSU possession, Wiley missed a shot from close range and the Hornets were forced to foul again. Pitt’s Jared Wilson-Frame knocked down two shots from the line with seven ticks left to close out the scoring.
Delaware State outscored Pittsburgh 46-30 in the second half.
After hitting just 9-of-28 first half shots (32.1%), the Hornets were 16-for-29 from the field in the final 20 minutes (55.2%).
“The combination of Pittsburgh’s hot shooting and some of our guys being a little overwhelmed by the big time environment put us in a deep hole in the first half,” said Delaware State head coach Keith Walker. “We made some adjustments in the second half, but more importantly, our guys settled down, played much better defense and hit some shots to get us back into the game.”
Although disappointed by the loss, the Hornet head coach believes his team made some strides in the game.
“Our play in the second half shows the potential of this team,” Walker said. “The challenge is to become more consistent in our execution so we play a more complete game.”
Kavon Waller led four Delaware State players in double figures with a season-high 17 points, highlighted by 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range. The five three-pointers also marked a season-high for Waller.
Wiley added 16 points and a career-best seven assists for DSU.
Hornet center Simon Okolue recorded his third double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and topping all players with 12 rebounds.
Wilson-Frame and Milligan led Pittsburgh with 13 points each.
Delaware State lost its seventh in a row to fall to 2-11 this season, while the Panthers won for the sixth time in seven games to improve to 7-5.
The Hornets are also on the road for their next two games, this Friday (Dec. 22) at Nebraska and Dec. 29 at Penn. Delaware State returns home Wed. Jan. 3, 2018 for its MEAC opener against defending conference champ North Carolina Central. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. following the DSU/NCCU women’s contest in Memorial Hall.