TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Surging Pitt dumps Backyard Brawl rival West Virginia

College Football Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By John Grupp
Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012
 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No one is asking what's wrong with Pitt anymore.

The Panthers won their third in a row and took another step away from the eight-game losing streak that had many dismissing the perennial Big East power.

"We just want to play basketball," Tray Woodall said. "Keep working and keep fighting. Don't worry about what everybody is writing us off. We know we are a good team. We've just got to keep going out there and fighting."

Woodall scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half to lead Pitt to a 72-66 victory over sliding West Virginia on Monday night at WVU Coliseum.

The junior point guard's return from an eight-week groin injury continues to spur the rejuvenated Panthers (14-9, 3-7 Big East).

Two days after a 72-60 victory over then-No. 9 Georgetown, the Panthers sent West Virginia (15-8, 5-5) to its third consecutive loss, while inching up the Big East standings and making its once-unthinkable 11th straight March Madness bid gain a little life.

"I think we are capable of making it interesting," junior center Dante Taylor said. "We are a good team. We just had our struggles. Now, we are starting to pick up, and I hope everybody is watching and ready for it."

It was a typically physical game in the 183rd edition of basketball's version of the Backyard Brawl and perhaps the final Big East meeting between the two schools in Morgantown.

The Panthers took the lead late in the first half and never relinquished it, winning for the fourth time in its past six trips to Morgantown.

"I'm really happy for our guys and what they've done and how they battled and what they've become," coach Jamie Dixon said. "This is a great example of a team continuing to battle and continuing to work."

Woodall shot 8 for 12 from the field and missed his career high by one point. Ashton Gibbs added 15 points for the Panthers.

"We just did a good job of getting open on offense," Nasir Robinson said. "We really just ran a motion offense. Keep moving and grind them out on our offense, and we got a good shot."

Said Dixon: "There were some great performances from our guys in so many different ways. Obviously, Travon was terrific."

Pitt gave its second strong defensive showing in a row, holding West Virginia to 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from 3-point range. The Panthers committed only 10 turnovers and didn't allow a fast-break point.

"We get on a run and we're passing the ball and we're playing pretty good," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "Then, some guy decides to show us he can't dribble."

Pitt led, 33-29, at halftime and pushed back WVU's late second-half rallies and put away the Mountaineers on Gibbs' two free throws with 16.6 seconds to play.

With Pitt up, 45-35, West Virginia rallied behind All-Big East forward Kevin Jones (21 points, 13 rebounds) and center Deniz Kilicli (12 points, nine rebounds).

But every time WVU got close, Pitt made a big basket or defensive stop.

With Pitt leading, 63-59, Robinson saved a ball headed for out of bounds and flipped to Taylor, whose layup with 2:07 made the score 65-59. West Virginia got no closer than four the rest of the way.

Pitt led, 33-29, after a sloppy first half in which both teams endured long shooting droughts and combined for 19 fouls and 13 turnovers.

The Panthers, who will host West Virginia on Feb. 16, will try to win its fourth in a row when it plays Villanova on Sunday at Petersen Events Center. Woodall said the Panthers remain focused on the future.

"I can't even remember the score of this game right now," he said 10 minutes after the final buzzer. "I just know that we won, and we are getting ready for our next game."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  2. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  3. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  4. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  5. Dollars and sense: High cost of child care keeps many out of work force
  6. Former Cal U football player cleared of assault charges sues university, police, prosecutor
  7. ‘Real’ people, solutions at heart of GOP ad blitz in Pa.
  8. Penguins to appear on national TV 18 times in 2015-16
  9. Last option for former Jeannette Glass site: Pa. Supreme Court
  10. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
  11. Ambridge’s PittMoss takes off with help from TV show, Mt. Lebanon native Cuban