Hot perimeter shooting leads Pitt past Howard
As Pitt passed the ball around the perimeter early in the game Tuesday night, forward Lamar Patterson studied Howard's passive zone defense, one that seemed to suggest: Go ahead and shoot it from out there.
While not exactly a marksman this season — he made four of 17 3-point attempts in his first six games — Patterson embraced the open looks. And he left the Petersen Events Center with a performance that will boost his 3-point percentage quite a bit.
The redshirt junior sank all four of his first-half 3-point attempts and finished 5 of 8 from behind the arc during the Panthers' 70-46 win over the Bison. Patterson, who set career highs in 3-pointers and 3-point attempts, finished with 15 points to tie guard Tray Woodall for the team's top total.
“I didn't really change anything; today, it just fell,” Patterson said. “Four of 17, that's not like me.”
As a team, Pitt (6-1) made eight of 19 3-point attempts to tie a season high. It cooled considerably after a first half in which the Panthers made six of 10.
Howard (1-6) packed its defenders inside the 3-point line and challenged Pitt to shoot from outside during the first half. The Panthers obliged and lived with few regrets.
“I thought they really kind of set the tempo of the game with the zone, slowed us down,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
Aside from Patterson, guard James Robinson also found a rhythm from 3-point range, as he drained both of his attempts.
A passive defensive scheme still paid off for the Bison, who had a 17-16 edge in rebounding, held Pitt to six field goals on 17 shots from 2-point range and only trailed, 36-28, at the break.
“We wanted to control the paint,” Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry said. “We thought we could control the paint in the zone, make them make eight or nine passes, make them think a little bit, make it look like the paint wasn't available.”
Howard's big men, center Alphonso Leary and forward Mike Phillips, upstaged Pitt's post players early in the game. Each scored 8 points in the opening half to help Howard finish with 24 points in the paint.
Pitt, meanwhile, had just 10 points in the paint. But the Panthers surged in the second half as their interior play improved, and they accumulated 32 points in the paint to Howards' 34 by the game's end. They still trailed by one in rebounds (37-36).
“The first half, we came out flat-footed. And (at halftime), we got yelled at by coach, so everybody was focused,” forward Talib Zanna said.
Zanna, held to 2 points in the first half, made all of his second half field goal attempts and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. And center Steven Adams, responsible for just one rebound in the first half, grabbed five off the glass in the second.
“The rebounding thing really stands out,” Dixon said. “It's something that should be a strength of ours but isn't right now. We spent two days addressing it, but it's just not getting done.”
Even as Howard continued to rebound well, Leary and Phillips' productivity faded. Each made just one field goal in the second half. Guard Simuel Frazier scored 8 second-half points to finish with a team-high 12 for Howard.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.