Men pull away from Dukes in second half

By Mike Gladysz

Duquesne star guard Aaron Jackson entered the Petersen Events Center last night averaging 16.6… Duquesne star guard Aaron Jackson entered the Petersen Events Center last night averaging 16.6 points per game and hoping to help his team come back after a 95-72 loss to Duke last week. But Pitt’s Sam Young, along with center DeJuan Blair, made sure it was the Panthers who were in the spotlight. The Pitt defense limited Jackson to six points on 3-of-9 shooting, while Young and Blair combined for 37 points and 22 rebounds on the offensive end during Pitt’s 78-51 pounding of Duquesne ‘mdash; Pitt’s eighth-straight win over its city rival. ‘We made plenty of mistakes,’ said Duquesne coach Ron Everhart. ‘Hopefully we learned some lessons.’ Young scored 23 points in 24 minutes while Blair scored 14 points and added 17 rebounds in 30 minutes. But it might’ve been Blair’s 10 offensive rebounds and five steals that impressed the most. ‘Offensive rebounding is a byproduct of good offense,’ said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. ‘But the bottom line is [Blair] goes and gets them. He’s got great hands and he’s got a knack.’ Duquesne forward Damian Saunders agreed. ‘A big guy inside is harder to get around,’ said Saunders, who finished the game with a team-high 15 points. ‘I feel that he’s just a great player and he knows how to use his weight.’ The victory boosted No. 3 Pitt’s record to 8-0. Duquesne (4-2) hung around early, trading leads with Pitt for the majority of the first half. But with 1:27 remaining in the half, the Panthers took control. Pitt guard Levance Fields hit the ground hard after a blocking foul on Duquesne freshman forward Melquan Bolding. Fields was on the ground for a moment, and a technical foul was called on Everhart for stepping too far onto the court to argue. But Fields stood up moments later to knock down all four of his free throws, giving Pitt a 10-point lead. The Panthers led by eight at the half. Fields finished with eight points and added a game-high 11 assists. He also added two steals. Still, Dixon said that his team didn’t play enough of its own game at the start and was into the style that Duquesne wanted to play. Dixon said he made sure in the locker room that the next 20 minutes would be different. Sparked by a quick three points from junior guard Jermaine Dixon, Pitt started the second half with a 7-0 run. Dixon finished the game with 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. ‘We came out in the second half with a little bit of fire,’ said Blair. ‘We came out way better.’ Duquesne struggled to match Pitt on either side of the ball for the remainder of the half. Young had 14 of his 23 in the second period, while sophomore guard Brad Wanamaker had all eight of his points. Pitt forced the Dukes into 25 turnovers. But Jamie Dixon said the numbers on Pitt’s side weren’t too good, either. Pitt finished the game with 18 turnovers to just 16 assists. ‘I was a little disappointed,’ said Dixon of the ratio. Still, the Pitt offense operated when it needed to. With about seven minutes remaining in the game, Young hit consecutive 3-pointers from the left side to give Pitt a 28-point lead. By that point, there wasn’t much Duquesne could do. ‘They’re a very good basketball team,’ said Everhart. ‘They’re ranked No. 3 in the country for a reason. They executed well. You just can’t give a team like that easy baskets.’