PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — No. 17 Pitt beat Robert Morris, 81-71, remaining spotless in the all-time series against the Colonials with a 30-0 record.
Junior forward Dante Taylor (headaches) and sophomore small forward Lamar Patterson (suspension) both missed Sunday night’s game, but it didn’t keep the Panthers (5-1) from running out to a big lead and never looking back.
Senior guard Ashton Gibbs scored 21 points to lead the Panthers. Junior guard Tray Woodall added 12 points and 10 assists for his fifth double-double of the season.
Freshman forward Khem Birch got the second start of his career in Taylor’s absence and was very effective, scoring six points, pulling down 11 rebounds and adding six blocks.
“We haven’t really seen anybody like that,” Robert Morris guard Velton Jones said of Birch.
Sophomore forward Talib Zanna added 10 points and 15 rebounds and freshman guard Cameron Wright scored 13 points — both off the bench.
“Zanna was playing volleyball by himself up there a couple of times,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “I thought too many times tonight as I watched I saw our guys watching and unfortunately they’re participating in the game and I’m just a spectator on the sideline.”
After the opening five minutes Pitt went on a 16-4 run to take a 22-10 lead midway through the first half. That lead grew to 34-17 with under four minutes left in the half and the Panthers eventually took a 42-25 lead into halftime.
Pitt continued to roll in the second half, holding a 20-point lead throughout much of the half. The Colonials (4-2) made a run late in the game in the final four minutes but it wasn’t enough to make up for the dominance Pitt displayed most of the night.
“(Our defense) is getting better, but it’s not where it needs to be,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It’s been fun watching it improve … but we’re not satisfied. We need them to finish off a little bit better.”