CJ Bryce scored 21 points — including three pressure free-throws in the final 9.9 seconds — to boost North Carolina State to a nail-biting 79-76 victory against host Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
A potential tying 3-pointer from Pitt’s Sidy N’Dir was no good at the buzzer as the Panthers lost their seventh game in a row.
Balanced scoring helped the Wolfpack (17-7, 5-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap a three-game losing streak. Braxton Beverly scored 17 points, Torin Dorn had 13 points and eight rebounds, and DJ Funderburk (12 points) and Markell Johnson (10) also finished in double figures.
Pitt (12-12, 2-9 ACC) fell to .500 overall for the first time this season after beginning the campaign with six consecutive wins. Freshman Xavier Johnson scored 17 points to lead five Panthers in double figures. Jared Wilson-Frame (16), Terrell Brown (12), N’Dir (12) and Trey McGowens (11) were next.
NC State gained separation during a 16-7 run over the first 5:09 of the second half. The Wolfpack led by as many as 14 points but needed every bit of that breathing room, as the Panthers rallied to take a 61-59 lead on a Wilson-Frame trey with 11:09 to play. Dorn answered with a three of his own on NC State’s next possession to give the visitors a lead they wouldn’t relinquish despite numerous challenges.
A clutch Dorn jumper provided a 72-70 edge with 5:12 to go. The game was tied as late as the 3:21 mark, when a Johnson trey put the Wolfpack ahead, 75-72.
NC State overcame 41.2 percent shooting in the first half to take a 41-38 lead into the break. The Wolfpack led by as many as six points in the first 20 minutes, but the Panthers stayed close behind an 8-for-8 showing from the free-throw line and a 4-for-8 effort from long range.
Offensive struggles daunted both teams early. It took 7:02 for both teams to reach double figures, and extended scoreless stretches were common. Pitt grabbed a 25-22 advantage on a Kene Chukwuka layup with 7:27 remaining in the first half, but NC State quickly regrouped in a fast-paced stretch entering halftime.
—Field Level Media