Ramon Torches West Virginia

Pitt men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon couldn't have drawn up the play any better, except when Panthers point guard Ronald Ramon hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to stun West Virginia 55-54, it wasn't the way it was set up.

Forward Gilbert Brown tossed the ball inbounds to Ramon, and he passed off to guard Keith Benjamin. Instead of forcing it down low to closely-guarded forward Sam Young, who was Dixon's first option, Benjamin drove to the hoop.

When WVU guard Wellington Smith decided to double-team the ball, Benjamin quickly kicked it out to Ramon in the corner. He had a wide-open 3-pointer, thanks to a screen by center DeJuan Blair. Ramon arched the shot with 0.2 seconds remaining, and it swished as the horn sounded to give Pittsburgh an exhilarating one-point win against West Virginia in a Big East matchup Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center.

"Keith can make plays, so they were worried about the time on the clock,'' Ramon said. "And when there's only like two seconds left, you have to worry about the guy with the ball. Keith was going to the basket.

"So, they definitely didn't want to give him a shot. But he jump-stopped and got the ball to the open man. ... It feels good. It feels good, especially since it was a tough game, the way it was developing.''

Other than the game-winning trey, Ramon had a rough game. He was 1-for-5 shooting before the final shot, as Pitt's brick-laying convention continued. The Panthers shot 40 percent from the field, including 33.3 from 3-point range and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line.

Ramon (2-for-6), Benjamin (4-12) and Blair (3-13) struggled from the outset, but the game-winning 3-pointer was perfect. Did Ramon know it on the release?

"Hey, I was hoping,'' Ramon said. "The rotation was good. I felt good, but you can never trust a shot. So, once it went through the net, that's when you feel good. (But) I don't know, I just spaced out after the shot. Everybody just ran toward me, but I was just hoping that I got it off in time.

"That's what I was worrying about, the time, and it feels good. ... I wasn't shooting too well today, but Keith having confidence in me to knock down shots, that just says a lot about my teammates. And I'm glad I was able to do it.''

Blair certainly believed the right player took the final shot for Pitt.

"That shot was good, an excellent shot, and I knew it was good as soon as it left his hands,'' Blair said. "He came through, but I give all the credit to (Ramon and Benjamin). They made the play happen. I was just standing around. If it came off, I was ready to go get it, but I just give it to them and my teammates.

"I had a rough game, but I fought to the end. And Ronald bailed me out. I say thank you to him. This was a good win for us, putting us back on track, and now we have to get a win streak started. We had a couple tough games, but we're not going to fall. So, we're going to keep moving forward from here.''

Ramon noted that this result was a 180-degree turnaround from his play one month ago at Villanova. The Panthers had the ball with time running out, and Ramon turned it over as time expired in a disheartening 64-63 Pitt loss.

"That feeling I had at the Villanova game, it was a bad feeling,'' Ramon said. "Coming down to the end, knowing that we had to execute and had to play hard, and we didn't. And losing a close game like that, it definitely didn't feel good. And then, coming back on the bus, it was quiet. So, it's definitely a different feeling. And this feels real good.''

The heart-pumping victory must have made all the Panthers feel good, because injured guard Levance Fields ran from the Pitt bench toward Ramon in a near-record time. He practically ran over Brown in the process and joined his teammates in piling on Ramon.

"Like we keep saying, it's just a matter of time before No. 2 suits up,'' Benjamin said. "He's doing everything he needs to do just to get back on the court, and he's still one of our biggest leaders.

"He's still in the huddles and in the locker room and hear every day before practice. ... He's moving extremely well at this rate, and I'm sure he's ahead of schedule, whatever they predicted.''

Dixon noted that Fields CT Scan Thursday showed that the broken bone in his foot was completely healed, and it was just a matter of him getting back in shape and being able to practice live. Running across the court is one thing, but guarding someone is another, Dixon said.

There was another sequence that occurred with 4:58 remaining that affected the outcome. Pitt's Tyrell Biggs missed one free throw with Pitt leading 48-45. There was a foul on the rebound, and WVU's Joe Alexander went to the line. Dixon and his staff told the referees that he wasn't the player who was fouled, but they let Alexander shoot and make two free throws to get WVU within one.

Then, the refs decided to call a timeout and check the TV monitor to get the call correctly. They eventually changed it, took the points off the board and sent Cam Thoroughman to the line. He missed the front end of a one-on-one, and the Mountaineers ended up with no points in the that situation. WVU coach Bob Huggins was livid and said after the game that he's never seen anything like that where points were taken off the board.

Dixon said it's happened a lot in his coaching career and the refs got it right, because "it was a correctable error. (But) we told them the entire time from the beginning that they had the wrong guy. I just don't know why they waited until after the guy made the free throws to check it.''

Pitt assistant athletic director for media relations, E.J. Borghetti, discussed the situation with the officials and got the same explanation. It was a correctable error and could only be changed during a stoppage in play. If the clock would have started again, the points would have counted.

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