The Tar Heels battled back to eventually tie the score at eight with 5:21 left in the first. It would be the last time they scored all quarter.
The shooting woes carried into the second period for North Carolina, as the team failed to procure a point for the first 4:51 of the second.
The Tar Heels headed into the locker room at halftime trailing by 29, a margin that proved far too much to overcome in the second half.
UNC actually outscored the Panthers 18-11 in the third quarter behind an eight-point outburst from redshirt junior forward Hillary Summers.
The Tar Heels cut the margin to as little as 16 in the fourth quarter, but the hole they dug themselves into in the first half was too deep to climb out of.
With the loss, the Tar Heels fall to 14-14 overall and are in dire need of a strong final stretch to try and secure an NCAA Tournament spot.
"I'd like erase the first half from the history books of basketball to be honest with you ... We were so flat in the first two quarters." — Coach Sylvia Hatchell on her team's performance during the game's opening 20 minutes.
Paige Neuenfeldt, UNC volleyball's all-time leader in blocks, block assists and blocks per set, joined the women's basketball team Wednesday and played the final minute against the Panthers. She played basketball for two years in high school.
Three numbers that matter
29: The Tar Heels trailed by 29 at the half. This is the worst halftime deficit of the season, the previous being a 23-point margin against Northwestern on Dec. 2.
20: For the ninth time this season, North Carolina turned the ball over at least 20 times in a game. In the previous eight contests, the Tar Heels were 7-1.
9: UNC assisted on just nine of its 19 made field goals. Pittsburgh racked up 24 assists on 27 made shots.
The Tar Heels host N.C. State at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Wolfpack won the previous matchup, a 78-49 thumping at Broughton High School on Jan. 31.