PITTSBURGH — Winning while committing 22 turnovers is winning the hard way, but that’s exactly what Pittsburgh did, as the Panthers overcame their offensive miscues and survived a second-half scare to defeat High Point 71-63 on Tuesday.
Freshman point guard Marcus Carr scored a career-high 19 points and shot 5-for-5 from the floor, 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 at the free throw line as part of a Pitt team that shot 55 percent overall.
But Carr also had five turnovers as High Point used a second-half full-court press to close what had been a 10-point second-half lead for Pitt into a tight finish.
“We’ve got to do a better job locking in, really just being strong on the ball and taking care of the ball,” Carr said. “A lot of that was on me, my part. I had five turnovers myself. It’s unacceptable.”
Pitt had 12 more turnovers than High Point’s 10, giving the underdogs the extra possessions they needed to keep the game close despite only shooting 37.3 percent from the floor.
“We did some really good things,” Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings said. “I thought we defended really well. We obviously shot our free throws well going down the stretch. We didn’t take care of the ball.”
After High Point had taken a three-point lead just after the midpoint of the second period, Pitt locked down on defense, holding High Point to one field goal over the next four minutes and re-established the lead.
“Just kind of some empty possessions late in the game and give them credit, they made some timely shots,” High Point head coach Scott Cherry said. “Still, right there with a chance to play and win the game. . That’s pretty good for our group.”
Senior forward Ryan Luther scored 15 points and led Pitt with eight rebounds. Luther has cracked double figures in scoring in six of Pitt’s first seven games.
Andre Fox, a junior guard, led High Point with 20 points. He was 8 of 19 from the floor and 2 of 6 from 3-point range.
High Point only has two games against power-conference teams scheduled this season, and they showed progress from the first to the second. The Panthers dropped an 84-53 decision at Tennessee on Nov. 14, but cut their margin of defeat by 23 points against Pitt and did it without the services of second-leading scorer Jahaad Proctor, who missed the game with an ankle injury. Proctor is expected to return before Monday’s game against College of Charleston.
Pitt won back-to-back games for the first time this season and did so with a deeper bench than in the previous game. Kevin Stallings played a season-high 15 men, including every single one of his 12 eligible scholarship players. Pitt is in a stretch of three games in seven days.
High Point made it 47-44 lead on Andre Fox’s back-to-back layups, but Jared-Wilson Frame hit a jumper and then Pitt freshman Khameron Davis converted on a steal and score for to make it 48-47 with 7:40 to play. Pitt led the rest of the way, but never by more than 10 despite making 19 of 20 free throws.
High Point will return home for a game against non-NCAA opponent Johnson & Wales Charlotte on Friday. That game will tip at 7 p.m. The Panthers are 2-1 at home this season.
Pitt will play cross-town rival Duquesne Friday in the neutral-site City Game at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena. Duquesne won the game last year, 64-55, snapping a 15-year Pitt winning streak. The Panthers lead the all-time series, 52-32.