There were six lead changes, and Duquesne even led by four late in the first half. Pitt--though not consistent through the whole game--made a couple of key shots when it needed to, and came up with a couple of key stops when they needed to. Pitt defeated Duquesne 84-67 on Saturday, improving to 7-0 on the season.
"It's the kind of game we expected," head coach Jamie Dixon said. "We played hard. It was two teams going after it."
Pitt was led by Cameron Wright, who led all scorers with 20 points. Lamar Patterson added 18 points, followed by Talib Zanna with 13 and six rebounds. Durand Johnson came off the bench to finish with 11.
They didn't hold the rebounding advantage the whole game, but Pitt did finish with a 45-31 edge on the boards. Following a 30-34 free throw performance on Wednesday against Stanford, Pitt converted 15-21 shots today. Duquesne, 18-35. Soko feels this is one area where his team could have closed the gap, but didn't.
"If we would have made our free throws, it would have made up," Soko said. "Making free throws was huge."
The only thing that led Pitt to losing an 11-point lead in the first half, were spurts where they couldn't convert shots, and spurts where they couldn't stop Duquesne from making theirs.
Pitt used a 9-0 run to jump out to an early 13-3 lead. Strong defensive presence inside, and converting some easy, open looks was all it took.
Duquesne stormed back with a 8-0 run of their own, cutting Pitt's lead to 14-8, with 14:30 left in the first half. Jamie Dixon had to call timeout to regroup.
A three-pointer for Jeremiah Jones made it a 14-11 Duquesne deficit. Just as Pitt started out shooting 6-10 from the field, they converted just one of their next six shots, allowing the Dukes to get back in the game. Duquesne started off 1-6 from the field, before answering with three consecutive shots.
Jamel Artis ended an 0-4 drought for Pitt, converting a layup on a feed from Patterson. Pitt held on to the lead, 16-13, approaching the halfway point of the first half.
Soko tied it up for Duquesne, on a drive to the hole. He tied it up at 19-19. Dominique McKoy tipped in a miss off a miss by Soko, and the Dukes led 21-19, with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
"Offensive execution got us back in the game," Ferry said.
Patterson got Pitt back in it a little, converting his first three-pointer of the game. Colter answered for the Dukes with a three of his own. Duquesne led 28-24, with six minutes left in the first half.
Zanna tied it back up for Pitt, 28-28, on a feed from Josh Newkirk.
Pitt shifted into a 2-3 zone, which we saw heavily against Fresno State earlier this season. The Panthers regained the lead, 34-32, after James Robinson came up with a steal, taking it all the way in for a layup.
Robinson later came up with another steal, feeding ahead to a streaking Patterson, who finished the play off with a dunk. Pitt led 37-32.
The Panthers took a 39-35 lead into halftime.
"Duquesne got after it pretty well, and I thought we responded," Dixon added. "We got back to doing what we do."
Duquesne jumped right out of the gate to start the second half, getting three-pointers from Tra'Vaughn White and Colter, forcing Dixon to burn a full timeout.
White added another--three consecutive three-pointers to start the half for the Dukes, as they took an early 44-41 lead to start the second half.
"We were defending well, we were rebounding well," Jones said. "I wouldn't say our defensive intensity stopped. They just started making shots."
Pitt answered with a 7-0 run, Wright with four of those seven points along the way. He scored seven of Pitt's first 12 points of the second half.
Josh Newkirk also had four of those early second half points. His second bucket of the half--from just inside three-point range--gave Pitt a 53-44 lead, its largest lead since the early 14-3 lead. Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry had to call timeout.
Wright continued to convert his looks--scoring 11 of Points in the second half.
"I give credit to my teammates," Wright said. "They set me up a lot."
To seal things off Pitt took a 69-54 lead with 7:31 left thanks to a three-point, and another long two from James Robinson. Johnson took a reverse layup underneath, following another Duquesne turnover giving Pitt the 15-point lead. Ferry had to call his second timeout of the half, to try to stop the bleeding again.
It was enough to put the Panthers up for good.
"This was a very, hard-fought basketball game," Ferry said. "It was a ten-point game, and we took a bad shot. Robinson hit back-to-back shots, we just fell behind.
"They're a complete team. It shows what you can do if you beat them on the glass, or if it's close. It's something you have to deal with."