Pitt 63, Wofford 60

Wofford College from Spartanburg, S.C. might be quite small with an enrollment at less than 1,400, but the Terriers nearly were giant-killers Friday night.

Wofford, which plays in the Southern Conference (SoCon), held a double-digit lead from midway through the first half and 4:11 into the second half it reached an apex of 13 points (41-28) against Pittsburgh.

But the Panthers roared back to win 63-60 in front of 10,112 at the Petersen Events Center, as their two most-experienced players -- juniors Gary McGhee and Bradley Wanamaker -- led the way.

Wanamaker, who led Pitt with 15 points, played solid defense during a 10-0 run to get the Panthers back in the game and scored seven points in a two-minute stretch late to change momentum.

"They got up on us early, but Coach Dixon told us at halftime that we had to come out and be leaders,'' Wanamaker said. "Me and Gary and even Ashton, he played last year, we were able to help us get back in the game. Ashton hit some clutch free throws. I made a couple plays, and Gary had some big rebounds.''

However, a missed Wanamaker free throw -- one of five in the game -- was pulled in by McGhee and banged into the basket with 2:27 remaining to give Pitt its first lead since Wofford led 12-11 midway through the first half. McGhee also converted the three-point play which gave the Panthers a 59-58 edge.

McGhee, Pitt's only returning player with starting experience -- albeit one game -- pulled down another offensive rebound about a minute later off a Nasir Robinson miss and slammed it home to provide the winning points. Two free throws by Ashton Gibbs with 17.5 seconds remaining provided the final points.

"I just saw an opening and went after that rebound,'' McGhee said. "We needed it, so I knew I had to get it. I got fouled and got a chance to give us the lead, so I just knocked it down. That's probably one of the biggest free throws of my career, so far.''

Wanamaker noted that basically with a new team, as well as an opening ceremony when last year's NCAA Elite Eight banner was raised into the rafters that left the Panthers feeling quite emotional, Pitt got off to a rough start. Wofford led 31-24 at halftime and held a 19-12 advantage in rebounding.

Things changed in the second half, however, as Pitt eventually evened things on the boards and outscored the Terriers by a 39-29 margin. The Panthers shot a woeful 37.9 percent in the first half, but torched the nets at a 59.1-percent clip in the second half.

"We were outrebounded by seven in the first half, and that's something we've figured out,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "And that's not good enough. We knew our rebounding was an issue, and we've been addressing it.

"We worked on rebounding off free throws in practice and Gary came up big and got that rebound, was fouled, and made the three-point play.''

Freshman Dante Taylor was the No. 2 scorer for Pitt with 13 points and added five rebounds in 19 minutes while rotating with McGhee (7 points, 8 rebounds, 21 minutes).

Pitt played all its scholarship players except freshmen J.J. Richardson and Talib Zanna.

The Panthers return to action against Binghamton Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Pete.

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