GREENSBORO, N.C. — Georgia Tech’s 2022-23 season reached its end point Wednesday, with a desperate rally in the second half falling short in a second-round ACC Tournament game against Pittsburgh. Down 13 points at halftime at the Greensboro Coliseum, the 13th-seeded Yellow Jackets rushed back to take a brief lead midway through the second half before the fifth-seeded Panthers regained control and held off Tech for an 89-81 victory.

With the Jackets’ season over, the wait for a decision on coach Josh Pastner’s future with the team begins. Athletic director J Batt will determine whether Pastner will return for his eighth season after back-to-back finishes among the bottom three teams in the ACC. Batt declined a request for comment from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the game. He had said in a statement before the tournament that he would meet with Pastner after the season to evaluate the season.

“I hope to be back,” Pastner said. “I want to be the coach at Georgia Tech. I love Georgia Tech. I want the opportunity. I think there’s a lot to look forward to. I’ve got bosses, and whatever they tell me, they’re in charge.”

Tech (15-18) ends its season with a third loss to the Panthers, who are enjoying their first winning season since the 2015-16 season and whose transfer-dominated lineup earned the team’s highest ACC regular-season finish (a tie for third) since joining the conference before the 2013-14 season.

Pitt (22-10), which had lost its final two regular-season games, moves on to play No. 4-seed Duke in the quarterfinals Thursday.

“I think we fought completely to the end,” said guard Kyle Sturdivant, who continued his strong play at point guard, with 16 points and eight assists against two turnovers. “I was proud of the way we came back.”

As was the case in the first half of Tuesday’s game, the Jackets did not appear their sharpest early and were again off-target from 3-point range, which had been a gold mine for them at the end of the regular season. After making 30% of their 3-pointers in their first 13 ACC games, the Jackets then converted 41% of their 3-point tries in their final seven ACC regular-season games.

On Wednesday, Tech shot 8-for-25 (32%) from 3-point range, including 3-for-12 in the first half. It’s possible that the Jackets, playing their second game in as many days, were shooting on tired legs, and the much-improved play in the second half, when they scored 50 points, would indicate as much.

Against a defense that went into the game ranked third in the ACC in defensive field-goal percentage, the Jackets had trouble creating open shots for each other and saw several possessions go deep into the shot clock.

“We were playing a little bit not our way the first half,” Pastner said. “But I’m not going to let fatigue be (an excuse) because these guys had great positivity and great energy. In the second half, we had chances, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Said Sturdivant, “I think we were getting some good looks. They just didn’t fall. But I think in the second half, we let our defense turn into our offense, and I think that’s when we’re at our best, creating some easy opportunities.”

Tech trailed 44-31 at the half, making 36.7% of its field-goal tries. Tech had reduced what had been an eight-point lead to five when a steal by forward Ja’von Franklin turned into a layup by forward Jalon Moore. On Pitt’s next possession, guard Lance Terry deflected a midcourt pass that Moore had a chance to secure for a steal and potential fast break. Trying to make a touch pass, Moore was not able to direct the ball to a breaking Terry. Pitt recovered, and then Blake Hinson made a 3 to return the lead to eight points, a swing of five points.

But, like Tuesday, when the Jackets rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half to advance past Florida State, Tech punched back with force. A ferocious charge early in the second half elevated the Jackets from their 13-point halftime deficit into the lead at 52-50 with 12:55 left in the game. It was enabled by a phenomenal stretch of play by Franklin in which he had three steals in the first five minutes of the half that set up fast-break baskets, including one in which he threw down a reverse dunk. Franklin finished the game with 19 points, 15 rebounds, six steals and four assists, playing all 40 minutes for the second game in two days.

“Super athletic dude,” Pitt center Federiko Federiko said of Franklin. “Fast. Can jump. Kind of hard to guard.”

According to, no player in Division I had put together the stat line Franklin threw at the Panthers – 19 points, 15 rebounds, six steals and four assists – since at least the 2010-11 season. At the postgame news conference, Pastner volunteered a stat attesting to Franklin’s remarkable level of play of late. In his decorated career, Tech great Malcolm Mackey had seven 15-rebound games against ACC competition in four seasons. Franklin had five in the Jackets’ past eight games against ACC opponents.

“I really enjoyed this team,” said Franklin, who joined the team as a transfer from South Alabama over the offseason. “We could have easily given up, but we all stayed together, and we just fought to the end. We were playing as well as anyone in the ACC. I really enjoyed this. I wouldn’t have chose to do anything else with my season. I’m really proud of this team.”

After the Jackets claimed their 52-50 lead, Pitt took back the lead and pushed their lead to as many as nine. However, they couldn’t completely extricate themselves of the Jackets until the final 10 seconds of the game. Sturdivant was unrelenting, scoring 12 points with two assists in the final eight minutes. In two games in Greensboro, Sturdivant collected 25 points with 15 assists against three turnovers.

“I think we just didn’t want our season to end,” he said.

Sturdivant scored his last points on a basket that cut the lead to 85-81 with 22.2 seconds left. But after Pitt’s Greg Elliott made a pair of free throws with 14.6 seconds left to increase the lead to six points, and then Sturdivant missed a jumper with 10 seconds remaining, time ran out on the Jackets.

A season that was taking on water, with a nine-game losing streak that dropped Tech’s record to 8-15, finished with a remarkable turnaround, as the Jackets won seven of their final 10 games.

“Josh and his staff have done an unbelievable job of dealing with adversity, and to keep these guys to continue to fight, that’s a big-time testament to him, his staff, and the players in his program,” Capel said.

Whether that’s enough for Pastner to hold onto his job, it remains to be seen.