Pittsburgh’s freshman guards found a comfort zone in their first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game as Trey McGowens scored 26 points and Xavier Johnson added 23 on Tuesday in the Panthers’ 80-70 victory over Boston College at Charlotte, N.C.
The 14th-seeded Panthers (14-18) advance to the second round of the tournament Wednesday, where they will face No. 6 Syracuse.
Junior forward Nik Popovic scored 21 points for 11th-seeded Boston College (14-17). Junior guard Ky Bowman, who averaged 19.2 points per game for the Eagles during the regular season, was held to 14 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.
Senior guard Jared Wilson-Frame had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers, who won their second consecutive game after entering the final contest of the ACC regular-season schedule on a 13-game losing streak. That losing run started with a defeat at Syracuse.
Boston College opened the game with a 7-0 lead before the young Panthers started to look more like the team that began the season with a 6-0 record. Pittsburgh led for the first time at 13-12 midway through the first half after a layup from Johnson.
It was essentially all Pittsburgh from there as the Panthers used a 14-0 run late in the first half to take a 34-19 lead, and they were never threatened again. Boston College closed out the first half 0-for-10 from the field over the final 9:19, and the Panthers led 36-21 at the break.
The Eagles did put together a 14-1 scoring run midway through the second half, but McGowens halted that with a layup to open a 60-44 lead with 7:49 remaining. McGowens scored a game-high 17 points in the second half as Pittsburgh led by as many as 27 points.
It was the first time all season Pittsburgh defeated ACC teams in consecutive games. The last time they won games in succession was a three-game winning streak just before ACC play began when they defeated Maryland Eastern Shore, New Orleans and Colgate.
Senior guard Jordan Chatman scored 16 points for Boston College, which lost its fourth consecutive game and was handed its sixth defeat over its past seven games.
Pittsburgh not only lost to Syracuse 74-63 to begin its losing streak on Jan. 19, but the Panthers also lost to the Orange at home on Feb. 2 by a 65-56 score.
—Field Level Media