PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Pitt enjoyed another strong shooting night in the College Basketball Invitational Monday night and used it to beat Princeton, 82-61, to advance to the semi-finals against Butler.
Sophomore small forward Lamar Patterson led the Panthers with a career-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He hit a career-high three of his four 3-point attempts, all of which came in the first half during a stretch where he scored 11 of 13 Pitt points.
With 7:09 left in the first half and Pitt leading 28-19, Patterson hit two straight 3-pointers and followed up a Talib Zanna layup with another 3-pointer and layup of his own to push the lead to 35-22.
“That’s what we were trying to emphasize in practice, not coming out sluggish and (not) giving them the first punch,” Patterson said. “I feel like that’s what we did in the first half. I’m sure coach Dixon’s happy about that.”
Patterson’s first half push helped Pitt close on a 24-6 run heading into halftime for a 49-25 lead.
“We played very well in the first half, especially that stretch in the second half (of the first half),” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “I thought we defended well except for (against the center position), which we knew was going to be a problem for us.”
Dixon added he thought Patterson “was terrific and all these minutes are good for him going forward.”
All told, Pitt shot 34-of-65 (52.3 percent) from the field and 9-of-20 (45 percent) from 3-point range.
Pitt needed the large halftime advantage, as Princeton threatened in the second half.
After the Panthers’ lead grew to 26 just five minutes into the second, Princeton was able to slowly and methodically chip away at the deficit. What wasn’t working in the first half — scoring inside — became a strength for the Tigers, who scored 20 in the paint in the second half.
A 20-5 run pulled Princeton to within 11, 64-53, with 7:19 remaining. The Tigers cut it to 11 again a little over a minute later, 66-55, but couldn’t climb any closer.
Pitt responded with a 14-3 run to earn another commanding lead, 80-58, with just over a minute to play en route to an 82-61 win.
Senior guard Tray Woodall scored 15 points and added 11 assists and eight rebounds for a near triple-double.
“I’m not gonna lie, before I got subbed out they told me I was four rebounds away (from a triple-double). That’s why you saw me running after the rebounds,” Woodall said. “Besides that I was in the flow of the game, just playing. I was just trying to get rebounds, just trying to help my team.”
Senior forward Nasir Robinson scored 12 points, Zanna scored 11 and senior guard Ashton Gibbs added 10 as other Panthers in double-figures.
Princeton senior guard Douglas Davis scored 20 points to lead the Tigers. Junior forward Ian Hummer added 14 points.
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog