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Pitt whips Wofford in front of sparse crowd

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By John Grupp
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pitt won a postseason game Wednesday, but you would have to take someone's word for it.

To put the minuscule crowd of 1,449 into perspective, consider this:

Pitt played two years ago during a state of emergency with the region under nearly two feet of snow and drew three times as many fans.

Let's just say Pitt won't cover the $35,000 minimum ticket guarantee it paid to host the game in the 16-team, third-tier tournament.

Playing in front of a Petersen Events Center record-low crowd, the Panthers topped Wofford, 81-63, in the first round of the fifth-year College Basketball Invitational.

"It's been a different year for us," coach Jamie Dixon said. "It's been tough on our guys. They wanted to play. I was eager to see how we would come out."

The Panthers made 14 3-pointers and had a 20-to-6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

"You don't know what's going to happen in a game like this," Dixon said. "You wonder if guys are going to look for their own (points). You just don't know. Obviously, we haven't been in this situation. Given what we did, I'm very proud of our guys moving forward here."

Pitt (18-16) will play Princeton (19-11), a 95-86 winner over Evansville, at either 7 or 8 p.m. (depending on TV) Monday at Petersen Events Center in the quarterfinals.

The attendance last night in the 12,508-seat building shattered the old low-water mark of 6,234 set against Georgetown (Ky.) on Dec. 15, 2003, and the 2010 blizzard game against Seton Hall. The attendance was poor even by CBI standards; the eight first-round games last year averaged 2,414.

"We had our true fans there," said J.J. Moore, whose 40-foot buzzer-beater at halftime was the highlight of the game. "They had our back. I showed them this is what Pitt is about."

Pitt went 14 for 25 from 3-point range, and five players scored in double-figures.

"This is unfamiliar territory for the Panthers," Wofford coach Mike Young said. "They could have come in here and slopped around and not been sharp. They were sharp."

Tray Woodall had 16 points, nine assists and one turnover. Moore scored 16 points, and Lamar Patterson added 13. Brad Loesing had 15 points and nine assists for Wofford (19-14).

"Jamie will have this team back to where you are accustomed them being," Young said. "They will move on. This is a blip on the screen for them. They are going to be just fine."

Pitt went on a 16-0 first-half run -- Wofford missed 13 shots in a row -- and led, 42-23, at the break.

Wofford used on a 17-2 run in the second half and cut Pitt's lead to 51-45 with 12 minutes to play.

But Moore hit back-to-back 3s, and Pitt led by double figures the rest of the way.

"We trying to do the best we can with this," Dixon said.

Additional Information:

Staying away

Lowest attendance at 12,508-seat Petersen Events Center, which opened in 2002-03

Attendance -- Opponent -- Date

6,234 -- Georgetown (Ky.) -- 1 215/03

6,297 -- Chicago State -- 1 217/03

6,681 -- * Seton Hall -- 2/6/10

6,811 -- Robert Morris -- 1 123/05

1,449 -- Wofford -- 314/12

* -- Held during February blizzard of 2010

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