Pittsburgh and the visiting Wildcats combined for just 22 first-half points, the fewest during that stretch in a Division I game since the shot-clock era began in 1985. The Panthers led 15-7 and appeared to be sluggish after a furious comeback win against Duquesne in two overtimes two days earlier.
The previous NCAA record for first-half scoring futility was held by Mississippi State and South Carolina, which combined for 28 points Jan. 8, 2003. The seven points tied a record previously set Jan. 14, 2006 when Ohio held Central Michigan to that point total.
"I think some of it had to do with ... our good defense and their good defense, and some of it had to do with poor shooting and bad execution on the offensive end,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "But I thought, for the most part, we played pretty good defense. I was happy with that, because I saw improvement.
"(And) I liked what I saw executing the final four possessions in the first half and into the second half when we shot 52 percent and cut down on our turnovers. That comes out to some pretty good numbers. Obviously, there was a stretch there where it wasn't very good, but I'll focus on the good results at the end.''
Sophomore Ashton Gibbs and junior Bradley Wanamaker led Pitt in scoring with 23 and 19 points, respectively, which both were career highs. The Panthers (7-1) committed 10 first-half turnovers and shot 26.3 percent from the field, but they held New Hampshire (2-3) to just 12 percent with 10 errors as well.
"I was just taking what the defense gave me,'' Gibbs said. "Coach Dixon has been stressing for me to just face my defender first, and I think I did a good job with that late in the first half and in the second.''
Gibbs missed his first four shots after going 3-for-15 against Duquesne, when he missed his opening nine from the field, but made his next seven to be the only hot shooter on either team. Wanamaker missed three first-half shots, but made 5 of 6 in the second half to help Pitt shoot 52.2 percent from the field and improve to 40.5 overall. New Hampshire finished at 23.5 percent.
"I think we were just out of sync,'' Wanamaker said. "We were playing good defense, but just couldn't get our shots to drop on offense. And we just couldn't get going early.''
New Hampshire took a 5-0 lead and held it for about six minutes until Gibbs hit two free throws. However, the Panthers didn't get their first basket until a Wanamaker jumper with 13:20 remaining in the first half. The score was 7-7 with less than eight minutes remaining, and Pitt ran off eight straight to close the half with Gibbs scoring the final six.
Dixon noted that the Panthers ran a lot of sets for Gibbs and Wanamaker, primarily after looks inside went awry due to junior Gary McGhee's slippery fingers. The big center couldn't get off a shot in the first half and had just one in the game with three turnovers in 18 minutes.
Gibbs and Wanamaker said that the last time they were in a low-scoring game like this, particularly in the first half, they probably were playing YMCA hoops in their youth. Dixon basically moved on when he was asked the same question. Instead, he mentioned injuries to Chase Adams and Nasir Robinson.
"You know, we've got some guys trying to fight through some things,'' Dixon said. "Chase has been banged up. He's still got that groin problem and hasn't practiced, and Nasir's playing with a dislocated finger. He's just not comfortable out there.
"And Gary has played so well, but it just didn't click for him tonight. (But) we knew it was going to be a low-scoring game. They use the clock, and most of their games have been low-scoring.''
Pitt out-rebounded New Hampshire 36-31 with freshman Dante Taylor tallying 11 with eight on the defensive boards in 18 minutes. Wanamaker and redshirt freshman guard Travon Woodall had five assists each.
Ferg Myrick led the Wildcats with 11 points in 18 minutes.
The Panthers are off Saturday and practice Sunday and Monday before facing Indiana Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Pitt 47, New Hampshire 32
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