PITTSBURGH (AP) — Trey McGowens scored 14 points, Malik Ellison added 13 and Xavier Johnson overcame early foul trouble to finish with 10 points, four rebounds and five assists as Pitt shut down Duquesne in the second half to pull away for a 74-53 victory in the City Game on Friday night.
The Panthers (7-1) held the Dukes (4-2) to 36 percent (19 of 57) and forced 20 turnovers to continue their recent dominance in the series that dates back to 1932. Pitt has won 17 of the last 18 meetings.
Pitt took advantage of its size and athleticism to blow past Duquesne in the closing minutes. Duquesne pulled within 51-45 on an Austin Rotroff layup with 9:11 remaining but the Panthers reeled off the next 15 points capped by an Ellison dunk with 2:08 to go.
Michael Hughes led the Dukes with 20 points but Duquesne couldn’t keep up after the Panthers found their footing in the second half. Pitt outrebounded the Dukes 42-33, outscored them on the fast break 16-2 and had little trouble getting the shots it wanted late.
The 87th meeting between the schools located just two miles apart had a decidedly new feel. The Panthers are in the midst of a massive rebuild under first-year head coach Jeff Capel, one that appeared to take its first significant step forward in a one-point loss to No. 14 Iowa on Tuesday. Duquesne, meanwhile, has 11 players in the first season with the program and just one – Lewis – leftover from the team that knocked off the Panthers two years ago, a victory that marked just the Dukes’ fourth win in the series since 1982
Second-year Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot stressed coming in that the Dukes can no longer afford to be pushovers to the Panthers in a rivalry that at times seems to be built more on location and habit than legitimate tension.
The Dukes made their first four shots before the game devolved into the typical grind-it-out affair that has become the norm. Pitt slowly recovered to take a 32-29 lead after a half that featured more fouls (22) than made field goals (20).
Duquesne: The Dukes are on the upswing but with so many new faces, it’s going to take time to jell. Another chance at taking down an in-state Power Five conference opponent awaits when Duquesne plays Penn State on Dec. 19.
Pitt: The Panthers might be growing up more rapidly than Capel thought. Just 72 hours removed from an emotional loss in a difficult environment, Pitt responded emphatically when pushed by the Dukes.
Duquesne: Welcomes Marshall next Wednesday.
Pitt: Hosts Niagara on Monday.
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