Pitt got all it could handle from Kendrick Perry. It was a close game at many points of the first half. Thanks in part to productive output from seniors Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, Pitt came out with a 91-73 win over the Penguins.
Patterson led five Pitt players in double-figures, with 18 points, while Zanna finished with a double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds. With Patterson, it was three three-pointers that highlighted his efforts, two of which came in the early stages of the second half to open the game up for Pitt. Zanna was the catalyst behind a dominant rebounding performance.
Cameron Wright finished with 13 for Pitt, followed by Derrick Randall with 11 and Mike Young with 10. Josh Newkirk came off the bench with nine points for Pitt.
Pitt held a decided edge on the glass, 47-21. They had almost as many offensive rebounds (20) as Youngstown State had total (21).
"Our goal is plus 20 every game on the rebounds, it doesn't matter who your opponent is, the margin will show up," Young said.
Perry led all scorers with 28 points.
Perry entered the game, averaging 20.7 points a game. It's not too much of by surprise, but considering in its last three games, Pitt has allowed 27 points to Penn State's Tim Frazier. 21 points to Loyola-Marymount's Anthony Ireland.
Today, it was 28 to Perry. Not surprising, but bruising to the ego of Pitt's defensive mindset.
"We just want to play good team defense, we want to stop their main scorer," freshman Josh Newkirk said. "But, if he gets his, we make sure other people stay under their averages."
"We take pride in our defense," sophomore James Robinson said. "While it might look good our him it doesn't look good for us. The game is up in the air when we let someone go off on that."
Pitt led 43-32 at halftime. The Penguins, more specifically, Perry, didn't make it easy for them.
The Panther guards had no answer for Perry, early. He scored the first seven points for the game for Youngstown State. It was ten minutes before another player, Ryan Weber, scored for the Penguins.
"A lot of good things we just have to improve defensively," head coach Jamie Dixon said. "That's a good team, and Perry is a very good player.
We've played a lot of good ones. If you're going to try and find the best teams in those leagues (to play), and he really fits that mold."
At the same time, Pitt shot just 7 of its first 19 (36.8%) to start the game.
The Penguins trailed only 16-13 when Shawn Amiker drove to the basket, converting the and-one, cutting it a 16-14 Pitt lead with 11:41 left in he he first half.
That's when Pitt went on a 6-0 run. Moving the ball wisely, Patterson was the last player to have the ball in his hands. He drove to the basket for a layup, drawing the foul, putting Pitt up 22-14.
Patterson later came up with a steal, then ran away uncontested for a dunk, extending Pitt's lead to 29-22, approaching the 5:00 mark of the first half.
Derrick Randall contributing to that edge in the rebounding department, had a putback to make it a 31-20 lead for Pitt. It looked like Pitt was going to break away. The Penguins wouldn't let them do that, answering with a five-point run. Pitt still lead 31-26, with 3:57 left in the half. Youngstown State was keeping it close.
"They kept playing," Dixon added. "I thought we would pass it well, that played in our favor. We've been getting good production out of those guys. They're good, and they're playing. I wish we could defend better with 25-point leads.
"I thought we would pass it well, that played in our favor. We've been getting good production out of those guys. They're good, and they're playing. I wish we could defend better with 25-point leads.
Just like the win over Penn State, it was the seniors Patterson and Zanna taking over the game for Pitt.
Zanna answered with three field goals on three consecutive possessions, and Patterson hit a three-pointer to extend Pitt's lead to 41-30. James Robinson was the last player to have his hands on the ball in the first half, driving in for a layup with time expiring on both the shot clock and the game clock.
Pitt led 43-32 at the half, but not without a strong effort from Youngstown State. After starting the half 7-19 from the floor, Pitt closed strong, shooting 9-15 (60%) to finish the half.
The Panthers carried that momentum over, opening the second half with a 7-0 run. Youngstown State burned a full timeout just three minutes into the second half, suddenly down 50-32.
Perry answered with another bucket off the dribble, cutting the deficit to 50-34. Only this time, Patterson answered with another three. Pitt led 53-34, pushing a 20-point deficit just four minutes into the second half.
Pitt was 4-10 from three-point range in the second half, which in addition to the rebounding margin, allowed them to open a 20-point lead in the second half.
With everything else clicking--rebounding, free throws, better shooting, Pitt was able to open the lead. Better shooting was really the only difference in the second half, that wasn't working for them early in the game. They shot 55.9% (19-34) in the second half.
"They beat us in rebounding, that is their strength," Youngstown State head coach Jerry Slocum. "This is one of the best shooting Pitt teams I've seen."