Hot-shooting Pitt routs Mount St. Mary's in opener
Pitt shot a school-record 70.8 percent from the field in a season-opening 80-48 win over Mount St. Mary's on Friday at Petersen Events Center.
Junior forward Talib Zanna scored a career-high 20 points, and senior guard Tray Woodall finished with 14 points, six assists and three turnovers, as the Panthers scored 58 of their points in the paint and shot just 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
Their previous record for field goal percentage was 69.8 percent, set against George Washington in 1980.
“Offensively you just look at the numbers, you can't do too much better than that,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “Seventy-one percent, only eight turnovers, rebound half our misses. That's pretty efficient, so some really good things on that end.”
The Panthers, who shot 34 of 48 from the field, have won 17 consecutive season openers and 22 of the last 23.
Guard James Robinson and center Steven Adams started for Pitt, marking the first time since Jan. 6, 2004, the Panthers started two freshmen. Robinson finished with six points and four rebounds, and Adams added eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Sophomore guard Cam Wright played despite the death of his father, Kevin, on Friday morning following a long illness. Wright had eight points and three rebounds.
“I remember when Cam told me he'd been diagnosed with brain cancer,” Dixon said. “He said he wanted to play, his mom said he wanted to play and his dad would want him to play. The players all rallied around him and it was tough, but I thought he played really well. He wanted to do it for his dad, and I told him afterward his dad was very proud of him.”
Mount St. Mary's kept the game close early on by relying on strong 3-point shooting. It hit its sixth shot from long range to take an 18-17 lead eight minutes into the game.
Pitt called a timeout, tied the game on a free throw and then took a 20-18 lead on a layup by Woodall. The Mountaineers never led again.
Pitt held Mount St. Mary's to four points in the final eight minutes of the first half and led, 42-27, at halftime.
The Panthers, who saw their string of 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances snapped last season, opened the second half with a 12-0 run, including six points from Zanna, during which time Mount St. Mary's turned the ball over five times.
“Defensively we didn't execute the way we thought we could and the way we thought we would,” first-year Mount St. Mary's coach Jamion Christian said.
“If there's a disappointment, that's it. And Talib Zanna, how much has he improved in his time here at Pitt? He looks unbelievable. I've seen him play since he was a junior in high school, and he's really starting to become the player that we all thought he could be.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.