It took a string of four consecutive three-pointers--three from Lamar Patterson and another from Travon Woodall--in the second half, as Pitt pulled away from Indiana (Pa.) 73-56, to close out its two-game exhibition season.
The Crimson Hawks never led, but trailed by as little as nine with 11:22 to go in the game. A good matchup zone was the cause, keeping it a close game through the first half and in the early goings of the second half.
"We hadn't gone against a matchup zone," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "First half, I probably didn't run the right stuff we needed to run. Second half, we ran better stuff. We got open shots. We did a good job attacking, for the most part."
Pitt led 32-22 in a sluggish first half. The Panthers couldn't get in a rhythm shooting, and IUP's defense was suffocating the Panthers. Even though Pitt assisted on eight of 12 field goals in the half, they also committed eight turnovers. Pitt committed a lot of mistakes such as thrown away passes. Though no individuals got in foul trouble, Pitt committed eight personal fouls in the half ,which halted a lot of possessions.
"We used the ball screen a lot," Dixon said, when talking about how to break the matchup zone. "I don't think we rebounded well enough. They're a good team. They play hard. We didn't dominate the glass; you need to do that. We got to continue to work on our execution against everything."
Patterson, Woodall and Brad Wanamaker combined to lead the Panthers with 13 points each. Gary McGhee added a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. After Indiana cut the lead to 46-37 in the second half, Patterson answered with three consecutive three-pointers, putting Pitt up 59-43. Woodall added another, as Pitt went up 62-43, in just a four-minute span. Indiana head coach Joe Lombardi--a former Pitt assistant--was impressed with Pitt‘s three-point shooting. The Panthers shot 9-of-17 from three-point range.
"They seem to have a great shooting team," Lombardi said. "They take good threes. They don't take a lot of off-balance threes or a lot of rushed threes. They all pass the ball so well, and they're all able to create for each other. I can see them shooting forty percent from threes. Gilbert has made himself into a real good three-point shooter. I'm not real familiar with (Patterson). Patterson made the real big threes. That gives them a lot of spurtability."
Brown--who sat out both the Blue-Gold scrimmage two weeks ago and the first exhibition game against Northwood on Sunday, started on the wing. He was joined by Ashton Gibbs and Wanamaker at guard, with Talib Zanna and McGhee down low. Woodall and Patterson came off the bench to help out the Panthers.
It looked like a much different Brown too. He assisted on three baskets to lead the team at halftime. He also only took two shots in the first half--including a three-pointer with 11 seconds left, that put Pitt up 32-20. He finished the game with just five points, but didn't look to be bothered by a hamstring that held him out earlier in the preseason.
J.J. Moore--who had 14 points in the win on Sunday--didn't enter the game until the 5:42 mark of the first half. He didn't see action until the second half until 1:32 of the second half. He finished with a total of six minutes. Dixon said despite using 10 players in Thursday night's win, his goal right now is not to worry about how his rotation is going to work.
"I would never want to have a rotation figured out on November 4th," Dixon said. "That would not be fair to the players who are all competing for playing time. I think you want to challenge everybody. I think that's a bad way to develop players and programs."
Though he's not set on a rotation yet, it does look like Moore is on the waiting list for minutes behind Patterson and Brown. That much was evident in this second exhibition game.
"We have six perimeter guys, and two more that didn't play," Dixon said. "It's just numbers. It's just where the numbers are right now. I thought (Moore) did some good things. He's working hard. He got on the glass for a couple rebounds, so that was good to see."
Travon Woodall was praised on Sunday by Jamie Dixon. He came off the bench to give the Panthers a spark off the bench again on Thursday night.
"Coach Dixon has been talking to me about being a spark; pushing the ball," Woodall said. "For me, he's telling me to push the tempo a little more. I just want to be that spark off the bench on the defensive end, also on the offensive end; help my team pick up the tempo."
Pitt opens the regular season Monday night at home against Rhode Island. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.