Rebounding edge lifts Panthers past Penn
Pitt proved Saturday night that Penn isn’t mightier than the board.
The No. 5 Panthers once again dominated on the glass to dispose of the Quakers, 82-58, at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt (7-0), the No. 1 rebounding team in the Big East and one of the top teams nationwide, outrebounded Penn, 14-1, during a pivotal 10-minute span that turned a close game into a blowout.
“We have to beat people on the boards by big margins because that’s something we really emphasize and really do well,” coach Jamie Dixon said.
Playing against a deliberate Penn offense, the Panthers finished with 35 rebounds, well shy of their Big East-leading average of 47.3. But they limited Penn to 20, including six offensive, and outscored the Quakers, 22-5, on second-chance points.
During one stretch, Pitt outrebounded Penn, 10-0, to help spark a decisive 15-0 run to end the first half. Nasir Robinson had a pair of put-backs, and Dante Taylor turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play for a 36-18 lead at halftime.
Ashton Gibbs scored 12 points, and Dante Taylor and J.J. Moore added 11 apiece for Pitt, which got at least six points from nine players. Miles Cartwright scored 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting, and Jack Eggleston added 16 points and seven rebounds for Penn (2-3), the first Ivy League school to play Pitt in 15 years.
“I don’t think their depth wore us down,” coach Jerome Allen said. “It’s just them being relentless on the offensive boards. That was really the tale of the story.”
All told, Pitt limited Penn to one rebound during an eight-minute stretch spanning the first and second halves. By the time the run was over, Pitt had turned a three-point edge into a 49-28 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Pitt built the edge to 67-36 with eight minutes to play en route to its 52nd consecutive home victory against a nonconference opponent.
Brown had seven rebounds — one shy of his career high — and Brad Wanamaker added six rebounds, as Pitt moved into position to ascend to the top three in the nation after losses this week by No. 2 Michigan State and No. 4 Kansas State.
“It’s essential for us to come out and attack the boards like we do,” Brown said. “If we are able to control the glass, you will see us control the tempo of the game and be able to determine of how everything happens in the game.”
Allen, whose tallest starter is 6-foot-9, didn’t use his team’s height disadvantage as an excuse. Pitt, after all, got more rebounds from its backup point guard (Travon Woodall with two) than its starting center (Gary McGhee with zero).
“Charles Barkley was 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, and he was probably one of the best rebounders in the history of the game,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, rebounding is anticipation, but it’s more about an inner will and an inner desire to just flat out go and get the ball. I’m not saying that our guys are lacking in that area, but tonight we didn’t do a good job of that.”