Smalligan came off the bench with just a little over four minutes one in the first half and helped rally West Virginia from an early 7-2 deficit. He scored seven of WVU's next nine points, with the final three coming on a trey from long range to put the Mountaineers up 11-9.
In the second half, a pair of Smalligan threes again put WVU back into contention, with the second, a long bomb from nearly out of bounds on the right wing, drawing the Mountaineers to within three points at 54-51 with just over seven minutes to go.
Although WVU would fall short in its efforts to get the road win, it certainly wasn't the fault of the big center. He scored a career high 13 points on 5-8 shooting from the field, including 3-4 from long range. He also had two rebounds, two blocked shots, an assist and a steal in 19 minutes of play.
Joe Mazzulla, showing his usual fearless style, helped spark the Mountaineers as well. The feisty freshman never backed down from Pitt's grab and hold defensive tactics, and drove the ball hard to the basket at every opportunity. Like Smalligan, Mazzulla also tallied a career high in points (11), and also added a creer-best six assists. While the Rhode Island native did suffer three turnovers, he provided the Mountaineers wiht an attack-the-basket mentality that helped them stay in the contest until the final few minutes.
Long scoreless stretches again doomed the Mountaineers, who have had dry spells worse than those endured by Moses in the desert. WVU failed to score in the first four minutes of both halves, during which time the Panthers scored 12 points of their own. Even worse, West Virginia scored only one field goal over a seven-minute stretch in the second half, and while the Mountaineers did get to the free throw line on three occasions during that period, it wasn't enough to make up for the hot shooting of the Panthers. Youth is certainly a factor in some of these bad spells, but the Mountaineers will be one and done in the Big East tournament if it has another arid stretch like these.
When your star player only scores two points and yields 12 to one of the most ordinary players in the Big East, it's probably not going to be a good night. Frank Young again struggled from the field, and is discovering, like Kevin Pittsnogle did at times a year ago, that when the best phase of your game goes south, it can be tough to contribute in other ways. Young finished 1-7 on the game, including an 0-5 performance from beyond the arc, none of which were even close to going in.