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Pitt breaks out early, blows by Georgetown
WASHINGTON | The clash of high-scoring backcourts was no contest. Pittsburgh came in already on a roll, and Georgetown was already in a slump.
The Panthers’ perimeter trio of Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown scored an early knockout of the Hoyas’ Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark. No. 5 Pitt had a double-digit lead after 10 minutes and held it the rest of the way Wednesday night in a 72-57 win over No. 22 Georgetown.
“I thought me, Brad, Gil and Travon (Woodall), we definitely took it as a personal challenge,” Gibbs said. “I guess they were considered one of the best backcourts in the country, and we wanted to come out and show what we had, too.”
Gibbs hit five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points. Wanamaker added 14 points, Brown had 12 and Woodall chipped in with five assists off the bench for the Panthers, who shot 58 percent in the first half to build a 17-point halftime lead, the school’s largest in a Big East road game. Pitt (16-1, 4-0) has won six straight overall.
Wright scored 14 points for the Hoyas (12-5, 1-4), who have lost three straight and are off to their worst conference start since 1998-99. Georgetown was let down by poor defense, poor free throw shooting and yet another off night from senior leaders Wright and Freeman.
Pitt took advantage of Georgetown’s interior defense to score all seven of its baskets in the paint during the first 8 minutes of the second half. The Hoyas made only four of 14 free throws in the first half — prompting boos from the crowd — and 14 of 25 for the game.
“It’s not an ideal situation,” Wright said. “It’s not a situation that any of us envisioned that we were going to be in, but at this point you can’t do nothing about it. You’ve got to step up and we’ve got to make plays and win games. It’s no time for us to be basically acting like punks. We’ve got to step up.”
Freeman finished with 12 points and Clark scored just five. The Hoyas’ share-the-ball Princeton-style offense generated only one assist in the first 12 minutes and just five in the entire game — compared to nine turnovers.
The Panthers, meanwhile, had a 15-5 assist-to-turnover ratio, and coach Jamie Dixon and his players attributed the win to three meticulous days of preparation that got them well-versed on the Hoyas’ style.
“Georgetown is unique in how they do their stuff, running their sets,” Dixon said. “And I tell you from Monday, they really jumped into what they were doing and picked it up. We have a smart group.”
Georgetown coach John Thompson III said his players have yet to strike the balance between the shooter’s mentality that says to shoot, shoot and shoot again until the shots start falling — and the need to recognize that sometimes maybe it’s time to take different shots or drive toward the basket.
“We have to do a better job of getting to our second, third, fourth options possibly,” Thompson said. “Getting back to the mentality of we just want a good shot, whether it’s after 3 seconds or 33 seconds. They did a good job of defending us, yes, but the stuff we wanted was still there.”
Georgetown didn’t have a run longer than 4-0 until late in the game, when it went to a full-court press and rolled off seven straight points to cut an 18-point lead to 11 with 5 minutes remaining. Gibbs answered with a 3-pointer that single-handedly stifled the potential comeback, and the game then slowed to a crawl in a half that included 26 fouls.
Pitt went 9 for 12 from the line over the final 4 minutes, enough to keep the Hoyas from getting close.
“We knew we had ‘em in the first half,” Gibbs said, “so we just wanted to keep stepping on their throats.”
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
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