South Carolina State falls to No. 15 Pitt 69-55
For the first half of Saturday’s game against No. 15 Pittsburgh,
South Carolina State senior Brandon Riley was on a roll. In the
second half, he couldn’t hit one of the easiest shots on the
Riley had 21 points, but missed layups – including six alone by
Riley – hurt the Bulldogs during a 69-55 loss at the Petersen
Lamar Patterson tied a career high with 16 points for Pittsburgh
(10-1), which has won eighth straight games. Ashton Gibbs scored
14, and Talib Zanna added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Khalif Toombs scored 16 for the Bulldogs (4-7), while Shaquil
Barber finished with 12.
Riley had 17 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting,
including 3 for 4 from long range. Riley’s 3-pointer with 6:04 left
gave SCSU a 20-18 lead and the Bulldogs trailed by five at
Riley made a jumper with 17:21 remaining in the game to trim
Pitt’s lead to 35-34, but the senior wouldn’t score again until he
hit another jumper with 7:08 left, making just two of his 10
second-half shots while being hounded by Gibbs.
”It’s very frustrating,” Riley said. ”Being a senior, those
are layups I’ve been making for four years. To miss those six
layups, I come to think what if I would have made them? How would
the game have turned out?”
Patterson led the Panthers on a 13-3 run to pull away. The
sophomore converted a putback, then rolled in an acrobatic layup as
Pitt built a 48-37 lead. The Bulldogs never got closer than nine
the rest of the way.
South Carolina State shot well beyond the arc, going 8 for 14
from 3-pointer range. But Pitt’s size – even without 6-foot-9
freshman Khem Birch, who left the team for personal reasons Friday
night – was too much. Pitt outrebounded SCSU 41-29 and scored 36
points in the paint.
”They did a great job of getting second tips on us,” Bulldogs
coach Tim Carter said. ”Their length really hurt us. We knew we
had to hit shots. When you go up against guys who are 6-10, 6-11
and your guys are 6-7, 6-8, it’s tough to score inside.”
Pitt turned it over four times in the first eight minutes and
didn’t have any real control until Gibbs fueled a 9-0 surge that
gave Pitt a 27-20 lead. The Bulldogs kept hanging around, and the
Panthers needed a follow dunk by freshman Malcolm Gilbert just
before the buzzer to take a 31-26 lead at the half.
The Panthers’ game-deciding run was more of a slow jog, with
John Johnson’s two free throws getting Pitt started before
Patterson went to work. Johnson later added a layup, JJ Moore hit a
putback and Zanna tipped in a miss.
By the time Gibbs drilled a pullup jumper to make it 50-39, the
Panthers were safe though their uneven performance will give them
plenty to work on over the next two weeks before their Big East
opener against Cincinnati on New Year’s Day.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon wasn’t thrilled with his team’s poor
shooting. The Panthers came in making nearly 44 percent of their
3-point attempts, good enough for sixth in the country. They made
just 5 of 23 against South Carolina State’s unorthodox zone
”We hadn’t seen them run a 1-2-2,” Dixon said. ”They really
dared us to shoot and to be honest we really didn’t shoot it