Wright paces Pitt past Duquesne in City Game
A career day by Pitt's Cameron Wright helped dash what could have been a memorable afternoon for Duquesne.
Led by the junior's 20 points, Pitt used a 15-1 run to erase a rare second-half deficit in a 84-67 victory Saturday over City Game rival Duquesne at Consol Energy Center.
Pitt (7-0) beat its crosstown rival for the 13th consecutive time, but Duquesne (2-3) kept it close until the final 10 minutes for the 11,146 in attendance.
With 18:22 left, Duquesne led 44-41 when junior Tra'Vaughn White made consecutive 3-pointers. It was the first time this season Pitt has trailed after halftime. But the Panthers scored the next 12 points, including five by Wright in what became a 15-1 run.
Wright never had scored more than 13 points, but he has become more aggressive.
“I wouldn't say I'm a different player,” said Wright, who mostly credited his teammates. “I think they're looking for me to shoot sometimes, so when you're wide open, you've got to shoot.”
Key was his layup and free throw with 14:13 left, which stretched a four-point gap into a 51-44 lead. The 6-foot-4 guard made 9 of 17 shots with two 3-pointers.
“He has much more of an aggressive offensive mindset,” said Duquesne sophomore Jeremiah Jones, who also faced Wright in the summer. “He was making some shots today. His mid-range shot has improved. He was attacking the basket well. He played a good game.”
It was the fifth time in six games that Pitt had a 20-point scorer. Lamar Patterson has reached the mark three times and Talib Zanna once.
“They're definitely one of the better teams in the country with the way they're playing,” Duquesne senior Ovie Soko said.
“They're so unselfish. Everybody on the team plays to their strengths. You really have to be locked in defensively.”
Patterson scored 18 points, Zanna had 13 points, and Durand Johnson had 11.
During Pitt's 15-1 run, Duquesne went nearly six minutes between baskets. During their dismal stretch, the Dukes missed six shots, had two turnovers and made only one of six free throws. Before junior Dominique McKoy's streak-stopping layup with 12:27 left, Pitt's lead had reached 56-45.
Duquesne made just 18 of 35 free throws, including just 11 of 20 by Soko.
“When you're playing against a team as good as Pitt, you can't leave that many free throws on the line,” he said.
Soko led Duquesne with 17 points, but just six came after halftime. Jones had 13 points, and Derrick Colter had 12.
Against a smaller Duquesne lineup, Pitt led in rebounds (45-31) and points in the paint (40-22). But much of that came in the second half.
“I think we got worn down,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “That's a good team. It's a big team, a physical team. They have a lot of depth. We were down three scholarship players, and I think it showed.”
In the first half, Pitt outrebounded Duquesne by only one (19-18). As a result, the Panthers held their smallest halftime lead this season at 39-35. They had trailed 32-30 until a 7-0 run just before halftime.
Pitt outscored its first six opponents in the first half by 21.7 points. Before Saturday, its slimmest halftime lead was 15 points over Stanford.
Pitt made six of its first nine shots and led 14-3. But Duquesne rallied to force ties at 19 and 21. Two free throws by Soko with 7:21 before halftime gave Duquesne a 23-21 lead. After ties at 28, 30 and 32, a Wright layup gave Pitt a 34-32 lead with 3:13 left. Wright's basket was part of Pitt's 7-0 run.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Jones said, “and they got the last run.”