Pitt rallies from 18-point deficit to win in OT

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 9:36 p.m.

Barreling toward a double-digit loss against Oakland on Saturday, Pitt instead pulled out one of the greatest comeback wins in school history with a 72-62 overtime victory at Petersen Events Center on Saturday.

Pitt trailed by 14 points at halftime and by 18 with 11:34 to play in regulation. Freshman point guard James Robinson tied the game on a pair of free throws with 10 seconds on the clock and Pitt dominated overtime.

“We didn't shoot well at all and we didn't defend well at all, but the one thing this team did do was fight,” senior guard Tray Woodall said. “It showed a lot of character.”

Robinson hit a jump shot to open overtime, J.J. Moore made a pair of free throws and after a jump shot by Dante Taylor gave Pitt a 64-60 lead with 3:13 left, Oakland would make only one more shot the rest of the way. Pitt was 5 of 5 from the field and 3 of 4 from the line in overtime and outscored Oakland, 52-28, in the second half and overtime combined.

“This is a very hard moment for us because when you come to Pitt, you're going against a guy who's one of the top coaches in the country and a program that's one of the best country in a building they don't lose in,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said.

“We should have won the game. For 37 minutes we were by far the best team on the floor. The last three minutes of the game I don't know what happened. I'll take all the blame. We collapsed. I feel bad for my players because this is the type of win they take with them the rest of their life and we weren't able to finish it.”

Previously, the biggest halftime deficit Pitt had ever overcome was 13 points in the last college basketball game played at Mellon Arena — a double-overtime win against Duquesne in the City Game in 2009. They trailed Oakland 34-20 at the half.

The 48-30 deficit was also the second-largest second-half hole the Panthers have ever overcome to win. The largest second-half deficit they've ever overcome was 22 points against Purdue in 1960.

“Not your typical 10-point win, that's for sure,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We battled, I guess that's the most important thing.”

The Panthers are now off to a 4-0 start for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons.

Moore led the Panthers with 16 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Robinson with 14 and Taylor with 10.

Corey Petros led Oakland with 19 points and Travis Bader had 16.

Pitt's second-half push began with back-to-back 3-pointers less than a minute apart midway through the second half to close the gap to 12 points and force Kampe to call a timeout midway through the half. Petros hit a jumper to get back to 14 points, but a 3-pointer by Moore and a dunk by Steven Adams cut Oakland's lead to 50-41 with 7:44 left.

Oakland still held a 58-51 lead with 1:07 left but the Grizzlies turned the ball over four times as the Panthers kept chipping away.

Pitt was a different team in the first half against Oakland than the Panthers were the first three games of the season.

Their largest lead was just three points in the opening minutes of the game. Oakland tied it for the second time with 13:39 to play, then took the lead on a fastbreak layup by Drew Valentine. Oakland shot 59.1 percent in the first half (13 of 22) and was led by Petros and Duke Mondy with nine points apiece.

Robinson led Pitt in the first half with seven points. Woodall, Lamar Patterson and Adams were all scoreless in the first half as Oakland outscored the Panthers, 20-8, in the paint and 12-3 off turnovers. Pitt was just 8 of 26 from the field.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or kprice@tribweb.com.

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