Pitt Prevails

  • January 25, 2009 07:11 PM
  • |
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
January 25, 2009

#4 Pitt 79, West Virginia 67
wvu coliseum
Morgantown, w.va.
Pitt 39 40 79
West Virginia 37 30 67
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 30-56 23-56
FG Percentage 53.6% 41.1%
3P Made-Att 4-13 5-19
3P Percentage 30.8% 26.3%
FT Made-Att 15-20 16-20
FT Percentage 75.0% 80.0%
Rebounds 31 34
Turnovers 9 13
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Scorer
 Da'Sean Butler
21 Points
Alex Ruoff
16 Points

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A dominant second half by No. 4 Pitt stifled WVU’s quest to beat its second Top 25 opponent in a week as the Mountaineers fell to the Panthers, 79-67, in front of a boisterous sellout crowd on Sunday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (14-5, 3-3 Big East) were outscored 40-30 in the second half, relying heavily on leading scorers Da'Sean Butler and Alex Ruoff to make offensive plays while allowing the Panthers (18-1, 6-1 Big East) to shoot 53.6 percent throughout the contest.

Butler made a concerted effort to shoulder the scoring load, pouring in 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting after having back-to-back 27-point affairs in victories over No. 12 Georgetown and USF.

Ruoff followed with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but found it difficult to knock down open looks from 3. The Mountaineers were 5-of-19 from long range, with Butler and Ruoff taking 12 of their 19 3-point attempts.

“We’ve got to get to the point where when we’re open we make them,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “It’s more critical for us than it is for them because we don’t have somebody that we can throw it close to like they do.”

After Butler’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 16:34 left in the game gave WVU a 45-43 advantage, the Panthers went on a 34-16 run over the next 14 minutes as Sam Young poured in 14 points.

Following a hard-luck foul by Ruoff with 14:42 left, Pitt’s Levance Fields nailed two free throws to give the Panthers a 49-45 advantage. Jermaine Dixon extended the Panther lead after making two timely 3-pointers and a layup to help give Pitt its largest lead at 16 points.

“He shoots 21 percent from 3 and he goes 3 for 5. When we left him open he made them,” Huggins said.

Young scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, doing his biggest damage in the second half. Post player DeJuan Blair, one of the nation’s top rebounders, finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Mountaineers were unable to collectively contribute on the offensive end compared to their 37-point output in the first half. WVU shot 39.1 percent in the game’s final 20 minutes, and finished at 41.1 percent (23-of-56) for the game. Six different scorers contributed in the first half, while Butler and Ruoff were two of only four players who found the bottom of the net in second half action.

Although their 67 points scored is their third highest total in conference play, the Mountaineers offset their offensive performance by having trouble containing Pitt’s oversized post players and quick guards. WVU, which headed into the game leading the Big East in scoring defense (58.9 ppg), gave up its most points all season to the Panthers.

Searching for a consistent third scorer, the Mountaineers were aided by Darryl “Truck” Bryant’s 12 points and six assists. Devin Ebanks finished with 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting, but all his offensive production came in the first half.

The Mountaineers’ bright spot on the afternoon came on the glass, as they outrebounded Pitt, 34-31. Butler led WVU with six boards, while Ebanks finished with five and Wellington Smith followed with four.

However, not having a player taller than 6-10 was troublesome for WVU as it was outscored in the paint 38-24. The Mountaineers also had 13 turnovers, with 10 coming in the second half.

WVU finished the afternoon hitting 16-of-20 free throws, as it continues to improve its game at the charity stripe. The Panthers also made their free opportunities count, nailing 15-of-20 from the line.

A back-and-forth battle was waged in the first half as the Panthers led 39-37. Pitt (18-1, 6-1) shot a blistering 60 percent but could not break loose from the Mountaineers, who were led Ebanks’ 9 first half points on 4-of-4 shooting.

Ruoff also paced WVU with 9 points, including a 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:17 left in the first half to give WVU a 33-30 advantage.

Ebanks showed off his rare length and athleticism on a highlight-reel play with 6:37 left in the first half. The freshman maneuvered his way to the basket and used tremendous finesse and hang time to get off a difficult under-handed shot on the right side, tying the game at 28.

Pitt started off the game with a thunderous basket, as Fields found Young for an alley-oop dunk in transition. The Panthers’ other fast-break points occurred right before the end of the first half as Nasir Robinson scored on a layup to give Pitt a 39-35 lead.

WVU returns with another home Big East contest against St. John’s on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum.