PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — No. 10 Pitt withstood Rider’s best effort Sunday and escaped with an 86-78 win.
The Panthers (2-0) built a 14-point lead early in the first half, but Rider (1-2) stormed back and tied the Panthers at halftime, 45-45. The Broncs continued to push in the second half and earned a six-point lead with 11:40 remaining, but Pitt eventually tied it and pulled away in the latter stages of the game to win.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, especially on the defensive end, there’s no doubt about it,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “They made shots and we’ve got a lot of work to do. Give (Rider) credit.”
Rider shot 53.6 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from 3-point range. Those 3-pointers in the second half kept the game close, as the Broncs nailed five down the stretch.
It was a 3-pointer by Tray Woodall, though, that ended up giving Pitt the momentum it needed. After Dante Taylor scored on back-to-back possessions, Lamar Patterson forced a turnover and Woodall hit at the other end for a 77-73 Pitt lead.
Rider couldn’t climb any closer the rest of the way.
“It started on the defensive end,” Ashton Gibbs said of Pitt’s late run to win the game. “We started getting stops. It wasn’t our best performance but we got through it, knocked down some key shots.
“We got stops. That’s where it all starts. That’s what we base our game on, is defending and rebounding.”
Woodall finished with 17 points and 10 assists for his second straight double-double of the season. Gibbs led the Panthers in scoring with 24 points and Nasir Robinson added 22 and eight rebounds.
“We made some adjustments,” Dixon said. “I won’t tell you what they were, but at the eight-minute timeout there we made some adjustments and I finally got a little bit smarter.”