Knights challenge, lose to Pittsburgh

Jerome Coleman was back in form, Kareem Wright may have had a breakout game and Rutgers played solid defense all game long. All that and the home court advantage took the Knights to the verge of victory but no farther against the No. five ranked Panthers.

 The Knights opened up with full court pressure and good offensive play by Ricky Shields and Herve Lamizana. That allowed RU to jump out to a 8-2 lead and force a Pitt timeout with 15 minutes to go in the first half.
Pitt picked up the intensity but four minutes later they were now down by eight (14-6) off a combination of Rutgers full court pressure and collapsing half court play once the Panthers got the ball past the midline. The Knight forced 7 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Pitt quickly came back on an 8-0 run which included two threes by Brandin Knight to tie the game 14 all with 8 minutes to go in the first half. Knight and Shields traded downtown threes to make the game 16 all with six to go in the half.

Both teams repeatedly blew opportunities to open leads at the foul line but Pittsburgh finally found the free throw range to open a 21-17 lead with three and a half to go. The Knights in the name of Ricky Shield began to find the free throw range too. That coupled with two Coleman threes tied the game at 25 at half time.

Brandin Knight led the Panthers at the half with 10 points. Jerome Coleman led Rutgers with 11.  Both RU and Pitt shot only 50% from the line for the first half and little over 40% from the field.


In the second half the Panthers jumped out to a quick six point lead off of two three pointers by Julius Page but a hook by Axani and a driving two in the lane by Coleman put Rutgers back within four points.  Both teams went after one another on defense but some questionable no calls against the Panthers allowed Pitt to seven point lead with 12 and a half to go. A couple of foul shots by the Knights and a downtowner by Jerome Coleman quickly cut the Pitt lead to 2 with eleven minutes remaining.

With the Panthers executing their offense and scoring inside it was Kareem Wright who came to the fore. Kareem scored on good inside play and good foul shooting enabling Rutgers to cut the Pitt lead to one with nine to go. After a beautiful block by Herve Lamizana it was Kareem once again scoring on an inside move to put Rutgers back in the lead 48-47 with eight minutes left in the contest. Brandin Knight took the ball the length of the Court get the lead back for Pittsburgh, but by now Wright was asking for the ball inside. He got it, scored and RU kept the one point lead with six and a half to go.

Pitt and Rutgers seesawed until a three by Donatas Zavackas gave Pittsburgh a three point lead with four and a half to go. Yet again it was Kareem Wright. He fouled out Pitt's Ontario Lett allowing Calvin Wooten to shoot his two fouls shots due to Kareem's being shaken up. Wooten hit one of two to get the Knights to within a deuce. Pitt missed on its next possession and with Kareem out, Herve hit a turnaround jumper to tie to contest.

Brandin Knight answered with a long three. Jerome Coleman came right back with a two, leaving the Panthers up by one with three minutes to go. But Donatas Zavackas answered with a three to put Pitt up by four, a lead that Ben Howland's team eventually stretched to seven with a minute and a half to go.

A Ricky Shields three cut the Pitt advantage to four with a minute left. RU and the Panthers traded baskets leaving Rutgers still down by four with 38 seconds remaining. Pitt added three more points to its total ending RU's hopes for an upset.

The final score Pittsburgh 70 Rutgers 63


PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Pittsburgh was having trouble taking care of the ball and the shots weren't falling. So the sixth-ranked Panthers went outside the 3-point line in the second half and beat Rutgers 70-63 on Sunday.

Brandin Knight made both his 3-point attempts in the second half, the last with 3:18 remaining to give Pitt the lead for good. The Panthers went 7-for-8 from beyond the arc in the second half and were 10-for-18 on 3s for the game, a far cry from their 32 percent 3-point shooting entering the game. The strong shooting offset 24 turnovers, which matched the team's season high.

Pittsburgh defeats Rutgers

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