As Christmas gifts go, Wagner couldn’t ask for much more.
The Seahawks knocked off No. 15 Pitt Friday night, their first win against a ranked team since 1978. It’s was the Panthers’ first loss to a Northeast Conference team in 71 games and just their third home loss to a non-conference team since 2002.
So yeah, it was kind of a big deal.
“I said to the coaches and I’ll say to the players to make sure you have your phones charged, because you’re going to get a lot of texts and a lot of calls,” coach Dan Hurley said.
Sure, some will malign Pitt’s schedule (it’s best win thus far is Oklahoma State), but this is still one of the Big East’s best teams and Wagner made them look wretched.
Pitt’s .87 points per possession was a season low, an impressive feat for one of the nation’s most efficient offenses. If you want to throw some water on the win, note that Pitt again played its sixth game without point guard Travon Woodall, who’s still recovering from groin and ab injuries.
But that ignores Wagner, a team that’s made huge strides in just two seasons under Hurley. (Bobby’s brother and Bob’s son is quickly making a name for himself in a famous hoops family.) The Seahawks (8-3) should contend for the NEC title – Robert Morris, Long Island, Central Connecticut and Quinnipiac will do the same – and this is exactly what they need when conference play resumes in 12 days.
“It’s very big for us,” Wagner guard Kenneth Ortiz said. “You know the Big East is one of the biggest conferences. Us being a mid-major, this is something big. Everyone wants to be top-ranked. We wanted to get it, we got our chance and we made the best of it.”
So spend the holiday weekend enjoying the thing. You earned it.
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