PITTSBURGH—Pitt (7-1) had such a size advantage over Duquesne (4-4) Wednesday night in the eighty-first edition of the City Game that it almost looked like the varsity was playing the j.v. The score indicated the same perception as the Panthers were never really threatened in their 66-45 win at the Consol Energy Center in front of 13,089.
“The City Game is tremendous. It’s an important game for us. We had a great crowd. If you look at middle of the week games across the country, very few are getting 13, 14, 15, 16 –thousand. Both teams played hard,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We have a long way to go but we improved this week.”
Neither team shot well in the first half as Pitt was 10-for-37 from the floor and Duquesne was 7-for-29. Dixon blamed his team on rushing shots and missing layups for the poor first half performance. Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry blamed Pitt’s defense for his team’s poor shooting in the first half.
“We could have played this game in a parking lot. The stage didn’t matter. Pitt plays defense really well,” Ferry said. “If you’re going to have a chance to beat Pitt you have to out-rebound them. They’re an exceptional rebounding team.”
Pitt out-rebounded Duquesne 49-33 overall. Freshman center Steve Adams pulled in 14 himself including 11 in the first half.
“The rebounding numbers were tremendous,” Dixon said. “We worked on some things [with Adams]. We emphasized rebounds with him and he got nine offensive rebounds. [College basketball] is a new world for him.”
The Panthers only managed 29 points in the first half, but their defense held the Dukes to a mere 17 points. Tray Woodall carried the team before the break. He scored 14 points in the first half including 3-for-5 from three-point range.
The second half was a different story. Duquesne scored in the first 30 second of the second half on a Jeremiah Jones three-point play to cut Pitt’s lead to single digits 29-20. It was the last time Pitt led by less than 10 points in the second half.
Woodall hit a three pointer two minutes into the second half to give Pitt a 12-point lead and the Dukes never threatened afterwards. The Panthers put the game away about midway through the second half when Lamar Patterson fed J.J. Moore on a breakaway for a thunderous dunk to give Pitt a 49-32 lead.
Woodall hit a career-high five three-pointers and led all scorers with 24 points.
“Tonight I just had the hot hand,” Woodall said. “We had to go out and get this City Game for our fans. This is my last go-round. I didn’t want to be the senior class that lost to Duquesne.”
Both Dixon and Ferry also noticed Woodall’s hot hand.
“This might have been the best game [Woodall] has played here,” Dixon said. “he took good shots and he played really well on defense including help defense.”
Ferry is a New York City native that has known Woodall longer than Dixon.
“Woodall is doing a great job,” Ferry said. “I’m a Brooklyn kid so I’ve seen him since he was a little kid.”
Patterson also scored in double figures for the Panthers with 13. He also had three rebounds, two assists, a block, and a steal. He also commented how important it is for Pitt to win the annual rivalry.
“We took our time a lot more on offense in the second half and tried to find more open shots and layups,” Patterson said. “Winning the City Game means a lot. We play summer league with [Dukes players] and we see them around town all the time.”
The Dukes were led by Sean Johnson who scored 13 points. No other Duke scored in double figures.
“Our shots weren’t falling. We weren’t getting offensive rebounds,” Johnson said. “I still think we could have beat this team.”
Next up for the Panthers is North Florida at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday night.
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