Men’s Basketball: Pitt crushes DePaul

By Greg Trietley

After never trailing No. 3 Syracuse on Monday night, the Pitt men’s basketball team had to… After never trailing No. 3 Syracuse on Monday night, the Pitt men’s basketball team had to fight off a second-half surge from Big East bottom-feeder DePaul Saturday afternoon.

But with two timely second-half baskets from Lamar Patterson and a 36-13 run in the game’s final 12 minutes, No. 4 Pitt pulled away to avoid an upset, defeating the Blue Demons 80-50 at the Allstate Arena.

The Panthers (19-1, 7-0 Big East) couldn’t find their rhythm on offense to start the game, missing their first three shots from the floor and turning the ball over on several possessions. DePaul freshman Cleveland Melvin converted an offensive board into a basket, knotting the game at 10 with 12:11 left in the first half.

Melvin finished with a team-high 11 points.

Two Tony Freeland free throws put the Blue Demons (6-13, 0-7 Big East) ahead 14-12, but a five-minute, 17-4 run gave Pitt a 29-18 lead with 4:12 remaining in the opening half. Thanks to strong play from Brad Wanamaker—who scored all nine of his points before halftime—the Panthers went to the locker room leading 38-23.

Long stretches without scoring hurt DePaul early. The Blue Demons didn’t make a shot from the floor until nearly five minutes into the game and didn’t hit a 3-pointer in the first half.

The second half started like the opening half ended, as Gilbert Brown hit an early 3-pointer that stretched Pitt’s lead to 18. Brown led all Panthers with 17 points.

But DePaul coach Oliver Purnell called timeout after Brown’s basket, and his Blue Demons swung momentum back in their favor. Melvin and Krys Faber attacked the rim for baskets, and then back-to-back 3-pointers from Jeremiah Kelly and Mike Stovall cut the deficit to nine, 42-33, with 14:12 to go.

The Panthers missed seven straight shots after Brown’s 3-pointer and the Blue Demons crept within seven points after full court pressure led to a Michael Bizoukas steal and a quick basket for Stovall.

That, though, is the closest DePaul would come.

Up 47-37, Wanamaker found Patterson for an open lay-up, and the freshman hit a 3-pointer less than a minute later to put the game out of DePaul’s reach. Wanamaker finished with nine assists.

A 36-13 Panthers run closed out the game and handed DePaul its 20th consecutive Big East loss.

The loss is DePaul’s second consecutive 30-point defeat. The Blue Demons fell to Marquette 94-64 last Tuesday in a game in which they committed 21 turnovers.

The Blue Demons struggled to stop Pitt’s big men from grabbing boards all game Saturday. The Panthers won the rebounding battle 48-33 and Gary McGhee had a career-high 15.

The game marked a milestone for Ashton Gibbs as well. The guard scored his 1,000th career point in the second half. He finished with 13.