Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and 11th-seeded Pitt routed sixth-seeded Iowa State 59-41 in a battle of cold-shooting teams in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region on Friday afternoon in Greensboro, N.C.
The Panthers (24-11) won despite having more turnovers (15) than field goals (14) while shooting 34.1 percent from the floor and 31.6 percent (6 of 19) on 3-pointers. Jamarius Burton added 11 points and Greg Elliott had 10.
Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes scored 12 points each and Tre King added 11 to lead the Cyclones (19-14), who shot 23.3 percent from the floor and 9.5 percent (2 of 21) on 3-pointers.
The Panthers will face third-seeded Xavier in Sunday’s second round. The Musketeers defeated 14th-seeded Kennesaw State 72-67.
“We’re hungry,” Cummings told truTV. “We’ve been doubted all year long, so when we get to this stage, we’re just hungry and happy to prove people wrong.”
Kalsheur’s layup started the second-half scoring and pulled the Cyclones within 30-25.
But Cummings scored six points during a 10-1 run that gave the Panthers a 40-26 lead midway through the half.
Kalscheur made a jumper and King added two free throws to pull Iowa State within 10, but Pitt scored 10 straight to take command. The Cyclones had a nearly eight-minute field-goal drought and the Panthers finished off their second win in three days, having beaten Mississippi State in the First Four on Tuesday.
“I’ve been confident in these guys all year,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel told truTV. “It’s an unbelievable group, it really is. We don’t want the music to stop. We want to keep dancing.”
Pitt took command early as Iowa State missed its first 11 field-goal attempts.
Guillermo Diaz Graham started the scoring with a 3-pointer and the Panthers scored the first five points before King made one of two free throws for the Cyclones.
Elliott made three free throws and Blake Hinson added a 3-pointer to help increase the lead to 13-1 before Kalscheur made one of two free throws for Iowa State.
Nike Sibande scored four points and Diaz Graham added two free throws as Pitt expanded the lead to 22-2.
Holmes followed with a layup for the Cyclones’ first field goal with 9:55 left in the half. He made another layup and Kalscheur added two free throws and a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 22-11.
Then it was the Panthers’ turn to go ice cold as they made just one field goal during the final 13 minutes of the half. They made six of eight free throws down the stretch to maintain a 30-23 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media