PITTSBURGH — Ashton Gibbs scored a career-high 26 points and Travon Woodall hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.3 seconds to go, but No. 4 Pitt fell to St. John’s on a Dwight Hardy layup with 1.2 seconds left, 60-59.
After Woodall’s 3-pointer, Hardy took the ball and drove the length of the court, sneaking around Gilbert Brown on the baseline and throwing a near-blind layup on the rim and in for the win.
The loss is Pitt’s first non-conference road loss of the year. The Panthers now hold a 24-3 overall record and 12-2 Big East record.
Pitt fell behind early as St. John’s couldn’t miss from the field. At the same time, Pitt had trouble holding on to the ball.
St. John’s jumped out to an early 10-3 lead and led 14-7 with 11:57 remaining as the Panthers turned the ball over five times. Pitt struggled with the Red Storm’s full-court press and it took a while to get comfortable with advancing the ball up court.
St. John’s shot 7-of-10 from the field in the opening 10 minutes and led 19-10 with 8:31 remaining in the first half. However, that’s when Pitt began to get comfortable with its game.
Jamie Dixon did a good job of using timeouts and media breaks to dial up plays offensively. He also chose to switch to a 2-3 defense in the later stages of the first half — effective as well. In turn, Pitt was able to cut in to the Red Storm’s lead rather methodically.
Ashton Gibbs, in his first game back after missing three straight with a MCL sprain, hit three 3-pointers and finished the half with 15 points. Two Gibbs 3s brought the St. John’s lead to 24-20 with 3:53 remaining in the half.
Gibbs added another 3-pointer and then hit four free throws as St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and guard D.J. Kennedy were both called for technical fouls in the final three minutes. Pitt led by one, 27-26, at halftime.
The Panthers and Red Storm remained close throughout the second half. Pitt led, 37-35, five minutes in to the second half and held a 40-39 edge with 11:43 left.
St. John’s overtook Pitt and built a 3-point lead, 43-40, with 10:43 remaining, but Pitt jumped back in front with a 3-point play by Gilbert Brown, a jumper by Woodall, a tip in by Dante Taylor and then a 3-pointer by Gibbs to set his career high of 26 points.
Taylor took a Brown pass for a dunk on Pitt’s next possession for a 52-46 lead with 7:09 to play. Unfortunately for Pitt, the Red Storm entered the double-bonus just over a minute later and it came back to bite the Panthers in the form of 8 points from the line.
Pitt managed just two field goals the rest of the way — one being Woodall’s 3-pointer with 11.3 seconds to go — and St. John’s capitalized to win, 60-59.
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog