Share This Page

Wanamaker's big shots propel Pitt to win

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has been encouraging Brad Wanamaker to shoot when he has an open look.

The Pitt junior swingman did so with perfect timing, just when time was running out.

Wanamaker sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a Chase Adams trey and a Nasir Robinson jumper — all in the final seconds of the 35-second shot clock — to turn a three-point lead into a double-digit halftime advantage.

Wanamaker finished with a game-high 18 points and eight rebounds, as Pitt shot a season-best 53.3 percent in a 71-59 victory over Kent State on Saturday afternoon before 9,468 at Petersen Events Center.

The Panthers (8-2) made 24 of 45 shots, including 9 of 16 3-pointers.

"We haven't really done that a lot this year," Dixon said. "We haven't made those shots. We've missed shots at the end of clock. That's something we've always done in the past — had patience and score at the end of possessions and 'grinding people out' is kind of the term we use.

"It was nice to see us make some shots. I know we're going to be a good shooting team once we get everything going and continue to improve."

It was the patience the Panthers showed in working the ball around the perimeter that was most impressive. Where Pitt was able to score at will the past two seasons, this team is learning to play like the Panthers did prior to the up-tempo days of DeJuan Blair and Sam Young.

With Pitt clinging to a 25-22 lead, Wanamaker's 3-pointer in the final seconds of the shot clock started an 11-5 run. Ashton Gibbs fed Chase Adams for a 3 from the left corner at the shot-clock buzzer for a 31-24 edge, and Robinson added an 18-footer for a 33-27 lead.

"That deflated us, really," Kent State senior guard Chris Singletary said.

Kent State (5-4) never recovered, as the Golden Flashes shot 33.3 percent (11 of 33) in the second half, missing all nine 3-point attempts.

Forward Justin Greene led Kent State with 17 points and six rebounds.

When it came to the help defense, Kent State overcompensated.

"I think those were the two biggest plays of the game, to be honest, because we actually guarded well for 34 seconds, but it's to no avail," Kent State coach Geno Ford said. "We were really foolish and over-helped. Basically, you can't ever help up at the basketball, and we helped up on two drives.

"They shot the ball very, very well — which they're going to do. Their record at home in non-league games is like 72-1 now, so it wasn't like we came in here thinking they were going to miss shots."

Pitt actually set a school record with its 44th victory over a non-conference opponent at Petersen Events Center, where it has won 27 consecutive games. The Panthers, coming off a 74-64 loss to Indiana on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic, also avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2008.

The sharpshooting was Pitt's salvation on an afternoon when the Panthers compiled a season-high 19 turnovers to 18 assists, extending that trend to six times in the past seven consecutive games.

Wanamaker was the catalyst, as he made 5 of 7 shots from the field, including all three 3-point attempts, and 5 of 6 free throws. Most importantly, Wanamaker showed the poise of an upperclassman.

"Any time a team is hitting shots at the end of the shot clock from playing great defense, it's going to hurt you," Wanamaker said. "I feel as though they thought they were playing great (defense). For us to find an opening at the end, it hurts."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.