PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Duke wrestling team went toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh this evening, falling to the 15th-ranked Panthers by a 20-19 score. The Blue Devils won five matches, but bonus points in the final bout of the evening proved to be the difference for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh (12-3) jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but Duke (2-8) answered with consecutive wins to tie the dual 9-9 and set up a back-and-forth affair over the final six bouts. The Blue Devils, thanks to thrilling victories at 174 and 197, led 16-12 head into the final match of the night, but came up just short.
Garnering massive victories for postseason qualification were sophomore Josh Finesilver at 141 pounds and senior Alec Schenk at 197. The senior captain scored his first top 20 victory of the year, upsetting 20th-ranked Kellan Stout by a 4-2 decision.
After losing to Stout by a 4-2 score in the 2018 dual, Schenk reversed his fortunes in his final ACC road dual of his career. He scored a takedown and rode out the first period and then used a pair of escapes in the second and third sessions to come away with the victory.
Josh, ranked 19th in the first RPI release, turned in a complete seven-minute match to upend LJ Bentley, who came in at No. 22 in the RPI. Bentley made it interesting in the third period going in front 6-5, but Josh responded immediately with an escape, takedown and riding time for the 9-6 decision.
With three points on the board from Josh, redshirt freshman Eric Carter came out on the mat in his dual debut for the Blue Devils at 149 pounds. In the opening scramble, Carter did well to force his opponent into a tough position, resulting in an injury to the Panther and giving the Blue Devil the medical forfeit and six team points.
All square at 9-9, Pittsburgh regained the lead 12-9 with a 14-7 decision from Taleb Rahmani. Duke’s Benjamin Anderson turned in a crucial escape late in the third to keep Rahmani from the major decision.
Matt’s bout, however, was a nailbiter to the very last second. The 16th-ranked 174-pounder had his hands full with Gregg Harvey as the they battled it out evenly over the course of the seven minutes. It was so even they needed more time to determine the winner and headed into sudden victory overtime knotted at two apiece.
Appearing as if the match would go into double overtime, a scramble in the final seconds created drama that left both benches on the edge of their seats and coaches standing with anticipation. With both wrestlers trying to finish their shots in short time, the referees deemed time ran out before anyone scored a takedown.
Both coaches proceeded to throw their challenge bricks onto the mat and it was the Blue Devils who came away the winner as Matt’s final move in the last second was determined to be a takedown for the 4-2 win and a 16-12 Duke lead in the team score.
The Panthers pulled within one with a decision from No. 10 Nico Bonaccorsi at 184 pounds to set up Schenk’s thrilling match to give Duke the 16-12 advantage that proved to be just short of what the Blue Devils needed to come away with the upset victory.
The Blue Devils close out the regular season at home against rival North Carolina next Friday. The dual is set for Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
No. 15 Pittsburgh 20, Duke 19
125: Brendon Fenton (Pitt) decision Arien Leigh (Duke), 6-2 | Pitt 3, Duke 0
133: Mickey Phillipi (Pitt) wins by forfeit | Pitt 9, Duke 0
141: Josh Finesilver (Duke) decision LJ Bentley (Pitt), 9-7 | Pitt 9, Duke 3
149: Eric Carter (Duke) medical forfeit Robert Lee (Pitt) | Pitt 9, Duke 9
157: No. 11 Taleb Rahmani (Pitt) decision Benjamin Anderson (Duke), 14-7 | Pitt 12, Duke 9
165: Zach Finesilver (Duke) major decision Tommy O’Brien (Pitt), 14-5 | Pitt 12, Duke 13
174: No. 16 Matt Finesilver (Duke) decision Gregg Harvey (Pitt), 4-2 SV1 | Pitt 12, Duke 16
184: No. 10 Nico Bonaccorsi (Pitt) decision Kaden Russell (Duke), 10-4 | Pitt 15, Duke 16
197: Alec Schenk (Duke) decision No. 20 Kellan Stout (Pitt), 4-2 | Pitt 15, Duke 19
HWT: No. 16 Demetrius Thomas (Pitt) tech fall Araad Fisher (Duke), 22-6 | Pitt 20, Duke 19