LAMAR PATTERSON SPARKS SECOND HALF RUN FOR PITT IN WIN
p>With Gilbert Brown on the bench because of three first half fouls and Talib Zanna not dressed because of a broken thumb, redshirt freshman Lamar Patterson saw an expanded role for BIG EAST leader Pittsburgh on Thursday night. The Lancaster (PA) native came through with a career-high 11 points and was the catalyst for a second half run that swung the came into the Panthers' favor.
After trailing 31-30 at the half, Patterson scored the first five points of the second half and then assisted on the next three baskets in an 11-2 run over the first 4:10 after intermission, sparking Pitt's 71-58 win over West Virginia at the Peterson Events Center Thursday night.
“He played really well," said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. "He defended well and didn’t force anything. He made some great passes and did a good job of just making the simple play. He’s been a big part of what we’ve been trying to do and he gave us very good minutes."
In his 22 minutes, Paterson finished with 5 assists, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal along with the career-best 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field and 3 of 4 from the line.
“It felt really good," said Patterson. "Like [my teammates] said, I’ve been practicing and playing pretty well. It felt good to go out on the court and finally put something together. By watching these leaders on the court ahead of me I was able to make the process really smooth.”
The Panthers were a virtual clinic on offense, especially in the second hald where they shot 15-23 (65%) from the floor and finished at 57% for the game. Pittsburgh also assisted on 23 of their 27 made field goals, while turning the ball over just 8 times in the game.
"In the second half, we took care of the ball and took good shots," said Dixon. "We had low turnovers and shot 65 percent in the second half. Our offense had better spacing and showed good patience."
The first half was a game of runs, with West Virginia opening the game with a 7-0 run before the Panthers answered back running off 11 of the game's next 13 points. An 8-0 run by the Mountaineers pushed them back up by six and again Pitt surged with a 15-5 run to take a 28-24 lead with 3:38 left following back-to-back three's by Gilbert Brown and Travon Woodall. Bob Huggins' club regrouped after a timeout to finish the first half with a 7-2 run to lead 31-30 at the break.
While the Pitt offense clicked in the second half right from the outset, the Mountaineers struggled at getting anything to go into the basket.
"We just didn’t make any shots," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "They blocked a few. Brad Wanamaker and Gary McGhee blocked a few. It’s not that we just didn’t get it in there. We just missed.”
The Panthers methodically extended the lead, to 11 on an offensive putback by Brad Wanamaker, 47-36, with 11:42 left and then two free throws by the senior guard pushed the lead to 14, 55-41, at the 9-minute mark. After Wanamaker grabbed a rebound and fed Nasir Robinson in transition for a lay-up and a 64-47 Pitt lead with 5:14 l3ft and Pitt was well on their way to their 25th win on the season.
"They beat us in transition in the second half," said Huggins. "Our half court defense wasn’t as good. They are good. That’s the reason why they are 25-3. They are good."
Robinson led Pittsburgh with 15 points and Wanamaker added 11 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds as the Panthers improved to 13-2 in the BIG EAST and have a full two-game lead over Notre Dame with three league games to play. They can clinch at least a tie of the league crown on Sunday at Louisville when they visit the KFC Yum! Center for a nationally televised game.
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