Pitt, Woodall top IUP in first exhibition
Pitt struggled from the field and the free-throw line Friday night at Petersen Events Center.
It wasn't until Tray Woodall and J.J. Moore took over the game that Pitt finally pulled away from pesky Indiana (Pa.) in an exhibition contest.
Woodall scored 16 points, dished out seven assists and had five steals in a 69-54 victory that came less than two weeks into preseason practice.
“I liked our energy,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We obviously have a lot of work to do.”
The Panthers missed 11 of their first 15 shots, 10 of their first 15 free throws, and they allowed the Division II Crimson Hawks to stay in the game.
IUP trailed by just three points five minutes into the second half before Woodall's playmaking and defense and Moore's assertiveness allowed the Panthers to distance themselves from the Crimson Hawks.
Moore scored all 14 of his points in the second half and six within a two-minute span. The junior forward converted a driving layup into a three-point play, and he buried a 3-point shot that gave Pitt a 42-27 lead.
IUP, which got a game-high 17 points from guard Mathis Keita, never threatened the rest of the way.
“We got the first-game jitters out of the way,” Woodall said. “We're going to find that chemistry.”
The Panthers host Hawaii-Hilo in an exhibition game next Friday, and they open the regular-season Nov. 9 against Mount St. Mary's.
Senior forward Dante Taylor had nine points and 10 rebounds, while highly touted freshman center Steven Adams had six points and six rebounds. Dixon told the Panthers after the game he thought Taylor was the best player on the floor.
Pitt shuttled bodies in and out with 10 players logging at least 12 minutes. Depth should be a strength this season for Pitt, but it may take Dixon time to settle on a rotation.
“It's like Noah's Ark,” said IUP coach Joe Lombardi, a former Pitt assistant. “They've got two of everything.”
Freshman James Robinson, who has excelled defensively, started alongside Woodall in the backcourt, even though they are both point guards.
The first half was mostly forgettable for Pitt in large part because the Panthers have yet to practice against the switching, man-to-man defense that IUP employed.
The Panthers were just 9 of 25 from the field in the first 20 minutes. They also made just 2 of 8 free-throw attempts and committed eight turnovers.
The 7-foot Adams had four points, but Pitt had trouble getting him the ball inside or creating off the dribble.
But Woodall and Adams keyed a late first-half run. An Adams steal led to a Woodall layup and a blocking foul on IUP. Adams cleaned up Woodall's missed free throw. His presence in the paint led to Pitt's only 3-pointer in the first half, as Woodall made the collapsing IUP defense pay by burying a jumper from the right wing.
Pitt took a 21-16 lead into the locker room and rolled in the second half, shooting 51.7 percent.
Notes: Sophomore center Marcus Gilbert likely will redshirt this season since minutes will be tough to come by. ... Guard/forward Chris Jones is also a redshirt candidate after losing 15 pounds because of an illness.
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.