PITTSBURGH—Pitt slogged through a sluggish first half but woke up midway through the second half and pulled away from South Florida for a 64-44 win at the Pederson Events Center Wednesday night.
“We expected a battle. It wasn’t our best game but it was a good win,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “South Florida hindered us in the first half. We responded in the second half.”
The (22-7, 10-6 Big East) shot less than 27 percent from the field in the first half and only led the Bulls (10-17, 1-14 Big East) by one point, 26-25 at the break. They shot 59 percent in the second half.
“We changed and showed more patience in the second half,” Dixon said. “It was one more reversal, two more change of sides, it only took a couple seconds but you get better looks, better rebounding, and better opportunities.”
After USF took a 30-28 lead four minutes into the second half, Pitt tore off a 16-0 run and never looked back. Woodall led the Panthers with 14 points including 10 in the second half.
“We settled down [in the second half] and started playing our game. We tried to get open looks,” Woodall said. “It was pretty ugly in the first half. We knew we weren’t going to keep missing shots.”
Woodall felt the Panthers needed to get the win to make up for the two games they lost to South Florida last year.
“We wanted to forget about last year,” Woodall said. “They beat us twice. It left a bad taste in our mouth.”
Steve Adams had some foul trouble and only played 16 minutes. Dante Taylor filled in admirably with a double-double by scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
“It feels real good. I’ve been working hard in practice and it carried over into the game. I just tried to be aggressive,” Taylor said. “I wanted to come out and play well, especially with this being our second last game at home.”
Victor Rudd was the only Bull to score in double figures with 16 points.
Pitt’s last home game this season is Sunday against Villanova at noon. It will be senior day for both Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor.
“It will probably be emotional for our team,” Woodall said. “I was happy to play with these group of guys. I feel we’re leaving the team in good hands.”
Taylor feels it will be an emotional day as well.
“I’m excited, I can’t wait. It will be emotional,” Taylor said. “I want to play as hard as I can.”