Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting in a 59-41 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday.
Jamarius Burton added 11 points and Greg Elliott had 10 for coach Jeff Capel’s Panthers, who stormed to a 22-2 lead after Iowa State missed its first 11 shots. Things didn’t get much better for the Cyclones, who had three stretches in which they missed at least eight consecutive shots.
Pitt (24-11), which edged Mississippi State in the First Four, moves on to Sunday’s second-round Midwest Region game against third-seeded Xavier, which had to rally from 13 points down to beat No. 14 seed Kennesaw State.
Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14), which reached the Sweet 16 last year in coach T.J. Otzelberger’s first season.
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The Cyclones, who had lost nine of their previous 13 games, didn’t make a basket until Holmes’ short jumper with 9:53 left in the first half, which drew a sarcastic cheer from Iowa State fans.
Iowa State’s poor start came while shooting at the same basket that officials worked to fix before the game, causing a brief delay.
“Iowa State asked us during pregame warmups to check if the rim was level,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Building personnel checked it and made a minor adjustment prior to the game beginning. We offered them additional warmup time, but they declined.”
Holmes’ bucket seemed to spark the Cyclones, who climbed back within 30-23 at halftime. Iowa State took advantage of three Pitt starters who were forced to the bench with foul trouble and nine turnovers.
But the Cyclones came out of the locker room the exact same way they started the first half, making two of their first 19 shots.
When Pitt’s Nike Sibande was fouled on a 3-pointer from the left corner with under five minutes left and made the ensuing free throw to put the Panthers up by 20, it was all but over.
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The Cyclones went nearly eight minutes without a field goal in the second half before Tamin Lipsey made a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:13 left to cut the lead to 56-37.
Pitt got an emotional boost from center Federiko Federiko, who received a huge ovation from the Panthers faithful when he checked into the game in the first half. Frederiko sat out with a knee injury against Mississippi State, and the Panthers were outrebounded by 21.
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Pitt: The Panthers knocked down eight 3s against one of the better defenses in the country when they beat Mississippi State for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014. They stayed hot against Iowa State, making their first three shots from beyond the arc.
Iowa State: The Cyclones weren’t quite ready for the big stage, enduring one of the poorest shooting performances in recent memory.