The Pitt Panthers started slow once again, but were able to create separation in the first half, leading to an 85-68 victory over Loyola Marymount on Friday at the Petersen Events Center.
Cameron Wright led the Panthers with 14 points, one of five Panthers to score in double figures. Pitt enjoyed a 54-32 advantage with points in the paint and had 23 assists including 13 combined by James Robinson and Josh Newkirk.
“We took care of the ball and shared it all the way through, and the high shooting percentage, 58 percent, says a lot of things,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We did what we wanted to do offensively and the defense got better as the game went on. ”
For the most part, we did get to all of our goals but give [Loyola] credit, they kept battling and that’s a tough team.”
At halftime, the Panthers (9-0) led 40-29 on 54-percent shooting. Talib Zanna and James Robinson led the team in the half with eight and seven points, respectively. Pitt got to the free throw line a total of 15 times while the Lions were held to six.
“We’re a really unselfish team,” Robinson said. “Everybody is capable of creating their own shot. We look for each other, and I think that really showed tonight. All we care about is winning. That’s what we go for.”
Pitt pulled away in the second half. In addition to wide-open looks, both Durand Johnson and Jamel Artis made shots despite being fouled. Loyola Marymount (6-3) tried to come back, bringing the lead down to 14 points. They had a slight advantage on rebounds which Johnson said was something that needed to be improved.
“Tonight we got out-rebounded. We’re much better than what we showed,” Johnson said. “Coach Dixon told us that just because it was Loyola Marymount didn’t mean we could come out and play soft, play lazy. We have to keep our intensity for 40 minutes no matter who we’re playing.”
The Panthers used a timeout to regroup and Lamar Patterson sparked the team by picking up his play. He would notch his seventh straight game with double figures. Pitt would maintain the lead and all 11 players that saw playing time scored.
“I think you have to be tough to play at Pittsburgh, and, by golly, they’re tough,” Loyola Marymount coach Max Good said.
Anthony Ireland led all scorers with 20 points for Loyola Marymount. The Lions lost players to injuries prior to this game, including two of their starters. With Pitt pulling away and playing tougher, Good knew the rest of the second half would be a long one.
“I’ll tell you what they’re attitude is and I know what it is, it’s mine too,” Good said. “When you get somebody down and you step on their neck, until the bones pop, then you pee in their ear. I’m not trying to be funny. They’ve got a killer mentality.”
The Panthers will next host Youngstown State on Saturday, Dec. 14 at noon.