PITTSBURGH — Once again, No. 4 Pitt utilized a solid second-half performance to beat West Virginia.
This time the Panthers (25-3, 13-2) had arguably their best shooting half of the season while WVU (17-10, 8-7) might claim it had its worst. Pitt cruised to victory, 71-58.
Trailing 31-30 at halftime, the Panthers burst out to a quick 7-0 run to start the second half. Freshman Lamar Patterson scored five points, pulled in a rebound and blocked a shot, eventually forcing a West Virginia timeout with 16:55 to play.
“We knew we wasn’t in our flow offensively (in the first half),” Brad Wanamaker said. “We (were) letting ’em play a little too physically with us and we weren’t responding.
“In the second half we settled down and adjusted to their defense.”
Patterson finished the game with 11 points, five assists and three rebounds in 22 minutes. His play was valuable considering Gilbert Brown suffered through foul trouble all night, eventually fouling out with 1:44 left.
“It felt good to go out on the court and finally put something together,” Patterson said. “Watching these leaders on the court ahead of me, it was able to make the process real smooth.”
Brown was benched after his fourth foul with 12:44 left, but Pitt managed to continue piling on to its lead. The Panthers forced another timeout on a Brad Wanamaker rebound and put-back to push the lead to 47-36 with 11:36 left.
It marked a 17-5 run to start the first half.
“There wasn’t a panic at halftime,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
The 11-point lead remained for much of the rest of regulation. Pitt ended up severely outshooting WVU. The Panthers made 15 of 23 shots in the second half (65 percent) while the Mountaineers managed just six field goals on 23 shots (26 percent).
It looked like West Virginia might pull off a dramatic late comeback when Brown fouled out on a technical foul. Casey Mitchell made four straight free throws to close the gap to nine points with 1:30 left.
However, the Mountaineers decided not to foul and it cost them. Dante Taylor and Patterson each dunked the ball home in Pitt’s final two possessions to win, 71-58.
“We felt pretty good going in to the second half because we didn’t really play well, we were in foul trouble,” Dixon said. “…We didn’t have to make a big presentation about it. It was just keep it simple, get back to doing it with a little bit more patience offensively, which is what we saw.”
- Talib Zanna broke his right thumb and will be out anywhere from 3-6 weeks. Dixon said the injury occurred after the team’s pregame meal. He said “it was off the court. Guys were messing around.” Zanna will have surgery on the thumb Friday.
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog