After two straight wins, the Blue Devils took a step back Sunday afternoon, dropping their penultimate ACC matchup.

A week removed from its first conference victory of the season, Duke lost to Pittsburgh 23-10 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, struggling from the outset as the Panthers jumped out to an early 14-3 advantage and never looked back.

One of the few highlights for the Blue Devils came from senior Jacob Kasper, who redeemed last season’s loss against Pittsburgh's Ryan Solomon. Kasper led 1-0 going into the third period, where he picked up two points at the beginning and two points at the end of the round to seal a 5-1 decision. 

Although Kasper is on pace to break the Duke single-season win record and avenged a blemish on last season, Blue Devil head coach Glen Lanham made it clear the Duke star needs to up his performance if he is to reach his goals for the season.  

“Solomon is a quality wrestler no doubt, but in order to achieve his goals, and that’s to win a national title, he’s got to separate,” Lanham said. “In nationals, if you let guys hang around, they’ll get you.... It is a win for him, a guy that he lost to last year, but still he’s six or seven points better than Solomon, and he needs to understand that.”

Pittsburgh (3-10, 1-3 in the ACC) dominated the early action, winning the 133-, 141- and 149-pound weight classes by an average of more than seven points before Blue Devil Mitch Finesilver—ranked 11th in the nation—gave the hosts their first points with a 3-1 decision against Taleb Rahmani. Duke’s second batch of points came from the younger set of Finesilver twins, with Matt winning a major decision in the 174-pound class.

Apart from Kasper and the pair of Finesilver wins, the Blue Devils (6-6, 1-3) had little to celebrate. Duke lost seven of the afternoon’s 10 bouts, with two losses coming by way of major decision.

“We acted like we were protecting something instead of just going out there and taking it to these guys. You can tell when your guys are just tight,” Lanham said. “We were in some matches where it was just a little of effort and scrap, and we just didn’t have that tonight.”

With three weeks left before the ACC championships, the Blue Devils will look to get back on track Wednesday night against a North Carolina squad that handily defeated the Panthers 26-10 two weeks ago in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils will then face their final regular-season test back in Durham when they host Old Dominion Saturday.

“Obviously, we've got to get to second attacks.... We've got to be able to chain wrestle. We teach that all the time. Maybe I have to coach that better, but if we don’t put together multiple attacks against UNC and ODU, we’re going to get skunked in those duals,” Lanham said. “We just didn't wrestle like ourselves.... It’s not a panic mode. It’s just a mode where we’re coming to the stretch, and that’s ACCs and Nationals, and we got to be better."