New York City native Tray Woodall celebrated quite a homecoming Sunday afternoon as he scored a season-high 25 points to lead no. 20 Pitt over St. John's at Madison Square Garden. Woodall hit is first shot, a three-pointer, and never looked back.
"Tray [Woodall] was terrific. He took good shots, he used our spacing well, it was a great performance by him," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "It's great to have 21 wins. It puts us in a great position. We're 5-3 on the road in our conference."
Pitt (21-7, 9-6 Big East) led almost the entire game but pesky St. John's (16-11, 8-7) stayed close. The Red Storm's shots stopped falling with around 7 minutes left though, and the Panthers pulled away.
"We were very good against the zone," Dixon said. "We didn't have any bad, wasted possessions."
The Panthers were out-rebounded 40-39 but made up for it on defense by holding St. John's to 7-for-28 shooting in the second half and 31 percent overall. They held Red Storm leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison to six points, over 12 below his average and a 1-for-12 shooting performance.
"We didn’t want Harrison get hot from three," Dixon said. "I thought we played good defense all the way through," Dixon said. "They play small. I was concerned about them driving our big guys. We guarded well."
Pitt led by as much as seven points in the first half but St. John's closed the game and the Panthers only led 30-27 at the half. The Panthers picked up the defense in the second half led by Lamar Patterson. He scored 11 points and pulled down 6 rebounds.
"Lamar [Patterson] had a great second half. He was very solid," Dixon said. "He did a good job rebounding which was key."
Pitt started the second half slow as St. John's came out of the locker room and tore off a 4-0 run and took its first lead of the game at 31-30 less than one minute into the second half. The Panthers re-took the lead for good fueled by Woodall who scored their first eight points of the second half.
He hit a three-pointer with six minutes remaining to give the Panthers their first double-digit lead of the game at 53-41 and the Red Storm never really threatened the rest of the game.
Woodall and Patterson were the only Panthers who scored in double figures. Steve Adams added eight. Nine Panthers scored. St. John's was led by Jakarr Sampson with 14 points and Phil Greene who added 11.
Pitt returns to play on Wednesday night when South Florida comes to the Petersen Events Center.