Meme Sharp Wins ACC Title
Meme Sharp became the first Pitt female student-athlete to win an individual Atlantic Coast Conference title when she won the 3-meter dive at the ACC Championships Feb. 19. Sharp’s school record six-dive points total of 360.00 vaulted the sophomore diver to conference glory. Moreover, Sharp dramatically came from behind with her final two excellent dives to take the gold medal in the event.
Tennis Earns First ACC Victory
The Pitt tennis team earned its first ACC victory since joining the conference Feb. 19, defeating Louisville, 5-2. Pitt locked up the doubles point thanks to back-to-back wins on courts two and one. The tandem of Audrey Ann Blakely and Gabriela Rezende turned in a 6-2 win that was quickly followed by a win by Amber Washington and Lolade Ogungbesan, also by a score of 6-2. The Panthers secured the victory after recording three singles wins from Callie Frey, Blakely and Ogungbesan.
Sarah Dawson Tosses Program’s First Perfect Game
The Pitt softball team made history Feb. 27 as freshman pitcher Sarah Dawson tossed the program’s first perfect game in a 13-0, five-inning win against Providence on day two of the Stetson Invitational in DeLand, Fla. The freshman standout retired 15 straight batters, all with the help of her teammates’ stellar backup in the field. Dawson did not record a strikeout in the game, as every ball was put in play by the Friars.
The last time the Panthers came close to seeing a perfect game was in 2011 when former pitcher Cory Berliner hurled a no-hitter against Seton Hall. Berliners bid for a perfect game fell short by two batters.
Men’s Basketball Defeats No. 15 Duke
Pitt put together its most impressive performance Feb. 28, at the Petersen Events Center, leading wire-to-wire in a 76-62 win over No. 15 Duke. The Panthers scored the first 10 points of the game and led by as many as 23 points in front of a capacity crowd and a national television audience (CBS). Pitt had five double-figure scorers – Jamel Artis (17), James Robinson (14), Sheldon Jeter (11), Michael Young (10) and Ryan Luther (10) – in the game and posted a 39-20 edge on the glass.
The win over Duke also gave the Panthers a 20+ win season for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons and helped propel the team into the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time since the start of the 2002-03 season.
Women’s Basketball Wins First ACC Tournament Game
In a wild overtime game, the University of Pittsburgh women's basketball team outlasted North Carolina in the opening round of the ACC Tournament, 82-72, March 2 at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was Pitt’s second win of the season against the Tar Heels, and in both games, three players tallied double-doubles. Freshman Brenna Wise posted a career-high 25 points to go with 10 rebounds. Stasha Carey had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Yacine Diop had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The fourth quarter featured four ties and five lead changes as the action went back-and-forth the entire 10 minutes. With 15 seconds left, Wise (who was 12-of-13 at the free throw line), calmly knocked down two clutch free throws to give Pitt a three-point lead. After UNC’s Jamie Cherry hit a desperation 30-foot 3-pointer with 00:01 seconds on the clock to force extra time, the Panthers regrouped and opened the extra session on a 7-0 run and ultimately outscored the Tar Heels 15-5 in overtime.
Wrestling Sends Six to Nationals
The Pitt wrestling team sent six Panthers to the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championships March 17 in Madison Square Garden. Representing Pitt was LJ Bentley (125 pounds), Nick Bonaccorsi (197 pounds), TeShan Campbell (174 pounds), Dom Forys (133 pounds), Ryan Solomon (285 pounds) and Cody Wiercioch (165 pounds). Making the longest run in the tournament was Forys, who went 3-2 after falling in wrestlebacks to Earl Hall of Iowa State. The 2016 NCAAs marked the 18th time Pitt has sent at least six wrestlers to the national championship and the 35th straight appearance by the Panthers.
Gymnastics Wins EAGL Championship
The Pitt gymnastics team won its first EAGL title March 19 scoring a season-high 195.675 to win the conference title at Fitzgerald Field House. Pitt earned the championship nod after it outscored New Hampshire [2nd-195.525], reigning EAGL champs George Washington [3rd-195.350], North Carolina [4th-194.975], NC State [5th-194.500] and Towson [6th-193.875]. The Panthers score was the eighth best in program history and it marked the second time the team has hit it this season.
Pitt finished the meet with seven top-five finishes and named nine gymnasts to first and second all-tournament teams. Senior Lindsay Offutt won the all-around title with a score of 39.525, while also winning the beam title.
Swimming & Diving’s Dominic Giordano Wins National Title
Dominic Giordano etched his name in Pitt swimming & diving history by becoming the program’s first national champion when he won the individual 3-meter diving national title March 25. The junior from Wexford, Pa., posted a six-dive final round score of 460.30 to run away with the national championship.
Giordano also earned All-America honors on 1M at NCAAs with an eighth-place finish in that event last spring.
Desmond Palmer Repeats as ACC Champion
University of Pittsburgh track standout Desmond Palmer highlighted the 2016 ACC Outdoor Championships as the junior successfully defended his title in the 400m hurdles May 15, at the Mike Long Track on the campus of Florida State. The school-record holder ran a season-best 49.66, passing Kenny Selmon (50.05) and Javonte Lipsey (50.91) of North Carolina to win the title. He also earned silver in the 110 meter hurdles after posting a personal-best 13.83. Palmer, a Pickerington, Ohio, native, also ran the final leg of the 4x400m relay, helping seniors Donnell Taylor and Chris Tate and junior Brylan Slay run a career-best 3:06.23 en route to a silver medal.
T.J. Zeuch Drafted in First Round
Junior RHP T.J. Zeuch made Pitt baseball history when he was drafted in the first round of the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft June 9. Zeuch was selected 21st overall by the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the highest draft pick in program history, and just the second Panther to be drafted in the first round.
Zeuch, one of the most prolific pitchers in program history, concluded his career as a Panther ranking seventh on the all-time strikeout list and recorded 205 strikeouts in just 212.6 innings of work. His 90 strikeouts during the 2014 season rank fourth in Pitt history for a single season while his career 8.68 strikeouts per nine innings mark stands at 15th in the Panther record books.
James Conner Makes Full Return to Football
In one of the more emotional scenes of this college football season, Pitt running back James Conner scored two touchdowns on his return to the field after defeating Hodgkin’s lymphoma and recovering from a knee injury in the offseason. Cancer survivor Conner led the Panthers out of the tunnel Sept. 3 at Heinz Field versus Villanova and proceeded to find the end zone on a rushing touchdown to score the first points of the 2016 Pitt football season. Conner’s first career TD catch solidified the Panthers’ 28-7 victory over Villanova.
Football Defeats In-State Rival Penn State
The historic Pitt-Penn State rivalry may have never seen a more exciting game than the Panthers’ 42-39 victory over the Nittany Lions Sept. 10 at Heinz Field. In front of the largest crowd to attend a sporting event in the city of Pittsburgh, Pitt beat Penn State thanks to an early offensive outburst, a clutch kickoff return by Quadree Henderson and a late interception by senior cornerback Ryan Lewis. The game, which renewed the Pitt-Penn State series after a 16-year hiatus, essentially kept the Nittany Lions out of the College Football Playoff and launched the Panthers into a successful and memorable campaign, culminating with an 8-4 record and a trip to the Pinstripe Bowl.
Football Upsets No. 2 Clemson in Death Valley
Pitt earned the best win of the 2016 college football season, upsetting No. 2 Clemson in Death Valley Nov. 12 thanks to a 48-yard field goal from senior kicker Chris Blewitt with just six seconds left. So many Panthers had heroic games, including five touchdown passes from quarterback Nathan Peterman, a two-score game from James Conner and interceptions from three Pitt defenders. The game, which ended the nation’s longest home winning streak, helped Pitt finish the regular season in the Top 25 with an 8-4 record.
Gillian Schriever Competes at NCAAs
In her NCAA Cross Country Championship debut, University of Pittsburgh sophomore Gillian Schriever recorded the second-best finish by a Panther at the final in program history, placing 106th at 20:52.1, Nov. 19, at LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course. Schriever’s finish is second only to Maureen McCandless’ 2004 All-American placement of fifth at 20:38 on the same course. Schriever was the first Panther to compete at the National Championship since McCandless, and is the second qualifier in school history.
James Conner Breaks ACC Touchdown Record
ACC’s all-time leader in career touchdowns and rushing TDs. In trademark fashion, Conner plunged into the end zone at Heinz Field twice from a yard out as the Panthers earned their seventh win of the season. The inspirational Pitt running back broke two ACC records that had stood atop of the conference 11 and 38 years, respectively, before Conner came along. After helping Pitt finish the regular season with a 76-61 win over Syracuse the next week in the highest scoring game in FBS history, Conner now has 56 total touchdowns and 52 rushing scores in his college career.
Volleyball Earns Bid to NCAA Tournament
For the first time since 2004, the Pitt volleyball team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament Nov. 27. The Panthers drew No. 23 Dayton in the opening round and went on to defeat the Flyers 3-1 to advance to the second round in which they would take on the 16th-seed and No. 13 ranked Penn State.
This was also the case in 2003, the last time Pitt advanced to the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. During that year, the Panthers took down University of Pennsylvania in the opening round and went on to face then ranked No. 10 Nittany Lions. The Panthers fell to Penn State 3-1 that year.
Pitt’s season came to a close as the Panthers dropped a heartbreaker to the Nittany Lions, 3-1, after a dominating first set win. Pitt finished the season with a 25-9 overall record and four wins against teams in the top 25 of the AVCA Coaches Poll.