Pitt hit dry spells in the first and second half, but thanks to big plays from Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Ashton Gibbs, the Panthers were able to pull off a 80-50 win over DePaul at the AllState Arena in Chicago on Saturday afternoon.
Pitt improves to 19-1, 7-0 in the Big East. DePaul drops to 6-13, 0-7 in conference play. The Panthers are now riding a nine-game winning streak.
DePaul hung around in the early goings, as they were able to take a 14-12 lead after a couple of free throws from Tony Freeland. Gibbs answered with a jumper just inside the arc, tying the score at 14-14 with just over 10 minutes left in the half. Pitt would then go on to outscore the Blue Demons 26-9 over the final ten minutes of the first half.
DePaul was able to keep themselves in the game thanks to good shot selection. Even their misses, they were able to get putbacks or offensive rebounds. In fact, DePaul had four second-chance points, off of two offensive rebounds in the first half. However, Wanamaker and Brown were hot down the stretch. Brown went up for a dunk, and was fouled by Jeremiah Kelly on his way to the rim. Brown's layup was good. With the free throw, Pitt went up 22-16 with 8:39 left in the half. Brown later missed a three-pointer. He crashed the board, getting the offensive rebound and the putback, giving Pitt a 31-21 lead with 2:27 left in the half.
Wanamaker added all nine of his points, four assists and four rebounds in the first half, which keyed Pitt's run. He came up with a steal, then pushed it all the way to the other end for an left-handed layup, which started to open up Pitt‘s lead, at 25-18 with just over six minutes left in the half.
Wanamaker had what looked like a layup at the buzzer, off a feed from Gibbs in transition. The officials, thanks to a look at the replay, later reversed the play. Still, Pitt led 38-23 at the half. Pitt's defense held DePaul without a field goal during a stretch of five minutes, and held the Blue Demons to just three field goals in the final 10 minutes.
Pitt looked like it was going to continue the momentum early in the second half. A three-pointer from Brown put Pitt up 41-23, not even two minutes into the second half. DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell called a timeout.
DePaul then returned to their form of the early goings of the game. The Blue Demons went on a 12-1 run, holding Pitt without a field goal for nearly six minutes. Pitt's lead went down to 42-35. Pitt's only point came on a free throw from Brown. Meanwhile, Pitt was 0-for-7 from the field.
The Panthers didn't get their next bucket until a driving layup from Wanamaker at 11:52 of the second half. On the next possession, Wanamaker found a wide-open Lamar Patterson, for a layup. Patterson had just come in to the game. His layup put Pitt up 49-37 with 10:50 left in the game. On Pitt's next possession, Patterson hit an open three-pointer to give Pitt even more breathing room, up 52-38.
Pitt's lead looked safe, as they were able to end that scoring drought. Gibbs added three-pointers on consecutive possessions, which put the game away; Pitt leading 61-40 with 7:30 left in the game. Their lead went from seven points to 21 in a span of six minutes. Fittingly, Gibbs--the Big East's leader in three-pointers this season--reached the 1,000th point of his career on that second three-pointer. Pitt outscored DePaul 36-13 over the final 12 minutes of the game.
Pitt now turns around to host No. 16 Notre Dame at the Petersen Events Center on Monday night at 7 pm.