No. 23 Pitt pulls away from Seton Hall, 56-46
In a span of two weeks, Pitt swingman Cameron Wright has gone from riding the bench to coming through in the clutch.
Not once, but twice.
After scoring the go-ahead points in the victory over Syracuse on Saturday, Wright responded with another strong second-half performance to propel the No. 23 Panthers past Seton Hall, 56-46, on Monday in a Big East Conference game at Petersen Events Center.
“Every day, day in and day out, I just try to bring a lot of energy to the table,” said Wright, who finished with eight points in 15 minutes. “When I get an opportunity to score, my teammates do a great job of getting me the ball when I'm open, and I just try to finish for those guys.”
Wright, who didn't play Jan. 22 at Providence, came off the bench to provide several big plays for the second consecutive game. He sandwiched four free throws around a basket in the final 6:42 as Pitt turned a 42-41 lead into a five-point edge.
It was the second consecutive victory and sixth in seven games for Pitt (19-5, 7-4), which returned to the national rankings Monday after its 65-55 win over then-No. 6 Syracuse.
The Panthers shot a season-low 34.8 percent from the field (16 of 46) despite making 5-of-12 3-pointers, but it was still better than Seton Hall's 33.3 percent (14 of 42).
“It's not often that you shoot a higher percentage from the three than you do inside the field,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
That came by design, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said, as the Pirates wanted the Panthers to launch 20 shots from beyond the arc. But Pitt's dribble penetration opened the lane for layups. Even so, the Panthers scored only 12 points in the paint.
Yet Pitt dominated the rebounding, 40-28, as Steven Adams (eight points) grabbed a career-high 15, and Lamar Patterson had his fourth career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“It sounds stupid, but we were trying to make them shoot 3s,” Willard said. “It's the direct opposite of what I try to do defensively, but they have such size advantage over people.”
Seton Hall (13-10, 2-8), which has lost eight of its past nine games, played without Aaron Cosby, who left the team for personal reasons. The Pirates' 46 points were the lowest in the 53-game series against Pitt and marked the third time this season the Panthers held a Big East opponent to fewer than 50 points (Georgetown had 45 and Villanova 43).
Pitt, however, could not stop Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin. The 6-foot-6 junior had a game-high 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 6-of-10 free throws to account for half of the Pirates' scoring.
Pitt was leading, 40-39, with 7:40 remaining when Wright missed two free throws. Edwin turned his right ankle after the second miss, and he hobbled off the court with assistance. During his absence, Pitt got a thunderous dunk from Adams, who was called for a technical foul.
Kyle Smyth made both free throws to cut it to one. That's when Wright, a 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore from Cleveland, made two free throws. Edwin returned but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 6:30 left, and freshman Tom Maayan did the same at the 3:35 mark.
“I really thought the game changed when we missed the two one-and-ones, more than anything,” Willard said.
From the right wing, Patterson found a cutting Wright on the left block below the basket for an uncontested layup and a 44-41 lead. Then, with 4:51 remaining, Wright made two more free throws for a 48-41 edge.
Seton Hall never got any closer.
“We did it with rebounding, and we did it with defense,” Dixon said, “and that's what we wanted to do.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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