After back-to-back bad losses for No. 20 Pitt, the Panthers were a team desperate for a strong showing Sunday afternoon against St. John’s.
Playing in their home away from home – Madison Square Garden – Pitt showed the desperation of a team needing to get back on track in a dominating 63-47 victory over the Red Storm.
A lot of that was due to the performance of senior point guard Tray Woodall, who set the tone early on with a three-pointer to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead. A Brooklyn native playing in front of his family and friends, Woodall turned in his best game of the season by dropping a game-high 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
While the 16 point win is the biggest winning margins the Panthers have had since a 38 point win against DePaul at the end of January, this one was closer than the final score indicated.
Pitt lead only 30-27 at the half and the Red Storm took a 31-30 lead coming out of the locker room before the Panthers showed the desperation of team not being able to afford to lose a third consecutive game. Pitt outscored St. Johns 33-16 the rest of the way, including a 16-6 spurt the final eight minutes of the game that broke open a six point game at the time.
The Panthers got Steven Adams involved early and Lamar Patterson scored in double-figures with 11, but the story was all about Woodall. His 25 points were a season-high and only four away from his career high.
Pitt also got back to playing solid defense.
While the Panthers shot 44 percent from the floor, they limited the Red Storm to only 31.6 from the floor and only 13.3 percent from behind the arc. That included limiting St. John’s leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison, the Big East’s No. 3 scorer (18.3 ppg),to only six points on 1-of-12 shooting.
Woodall, Dante Taylor and J.J. Moore are all New York natives as Pitt played their final Big East regular season game in Madison Square Garden.
They will return there in a couple of weeks for the Big East Tournament for the final time, but first there are games at home against South Florida and Villanova and a road game against DePaul to conclude the regular season.