ShareThis Page

Woodall scores season-high 25 as Pitt tops St. John's

Kevin Gorman
| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 1:02 p.m.
Pitt's Tray Woodall (bottom) and St. John's Phil Greene fight for a loose ball during the second half Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP)
Pitt's Tray Woodall (bottom) and St. John's Phil Greene fight for a loose ball during the second half Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP)

NEW YORK — Brooklyn native Tray Woodall returned to his hometown with a heavy heart and a hot hand.

The Pitt fifth-year senior guard used the latter to overcome his personal grief for one of his best performances.

With his maternal grandmother “severely ill,” Woodall scored a season-high 25 points to lead Pitt past St. John's, 63-47, on Sunday afternoon in a Big East game before 9,129 at Madison Square Garden.

Elizabeth Ratliff, 68, hadn't moved for 10 days — she has yet to be diagnosed, but Woodall said his family believes she might have had a stroke — until Tray visited her at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center on Saturday night in Paterson, N.J.

“My family is going through a tough time, but I had a lot of family here to support me,” said Woodall, who played at national powerhouse St. Anthony's in Jersey City, N.J.

“A guy like me, I don't need any extra motivation. I'm motivated every day when I get up. But it was nice to see my family and have a chance to be around them at this time.”

It was a game Woodall called a “must-win” for the No. 20 Panthers (21-7, 9-6), who were coming off losses at Marquette and to Notre Dame. It moved them out of an eighth-place tie with St. John's (16-11, 8-7), clinched at least a .500 record in conference play and did wonders for their morale and NCAA Tournament hopes.

It marked the third 20-point performance of the season for Woodall, who had 24 against Duquesne on Dec. 5 and 23 against Lehigh on Nov. 13. What made this one special was the location,.

“It's great playing at the Garden, the Mecca of basketball, playing in front of my family and my friends,” Woodall said. “I've been playing here for four years. It's just a great place to play. It was my last regular-season game here, and I wanted to make sure we came out with a win.”

Woodall made 8 of 14 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, and sank 5 of 6 free throws. He also had four rebounds, two assists, two steals and no turnovers. It was a performance that prompted Pitt coach Jamie Dixon to call Woodall “terrific in every way.”

“I don't think he took a bad shot, and I don't think he made a bad pass,” Dixon said. “That says a lot for 31 minutes there.”

Pitt shot 44 percent (22 of 50) from the field while holding the Red Storm to 31.6 percent (18 of 57). JaKarr Sampson led St. John's with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals, and Phil Greene IV added 11. Top scorer D'Angelo Harrison finished 1 for 12 and finished with six points, 12.3 below his season average.

Woodall, meanwhile, nearly matched his average in the first half, scoring 10 points as Pitt took a 30-27 halftime lead. When Sampson sank two free throws at 19:06 to give St. John's its first lead, 31-30, Woodall sensed the momentum shifting and swore to be the “fearless guard that I am.”

He scored eight points as Pitt responded with a 12-4 run, including a 3-pointer to regain the lead and a three-point play at 16:46 for a 38-33 edge.

“That's what we expect from our leader,” said Pitt swingman Lamar Patterson, who had 11 points, six rebounds and two steals.

“That's just Tray to me. He's been doing that awhile. He always wants to take the big shot. He had the hot hand, and we were finding him. He put the team on his back and led us to this victory.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.