Big win happens for Pitt
Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 11:40 p.m.
PITTSBURGH - The main criticism of No. 6 Pittsburgh all season has been that the Panthers haven't beaten a quality opponent. No one can say that now.
Ontario Lett scored 10 straight points to start Pittsburgh's comeback in the first half, then used his size and muscle to power a 16-0 run in the second half as the Panthers overwhelmed No. 5 Notre Dame 72-55 Monday night.
``I was sick to my gut all day about this game,'' Pitt coach Ben Howland said. ``I'm relieved this is over.''
Notre Dame, denied its fourth victory over a Top Ten opponent, was held scoreless for nearly nine minutes as Pitt turned a 42-38 deficit into a 54-42 lead with 9:12 remaining. The Irish had only two field goals, both 3-pointers, over the final 16 1/2 minutes.
``Defense and rebounding wins games,'' Howland said. ``Our guys are proud of the way they play defense.''
Pitt is 42-1 under Howland when holding teams to 60 points or below, with the lone loss being to Notre Dame last season.
Brandin Knight finished off three fast-break baskets during the 16-0 run, one of them off a pretty pass by Lett, and Chevy Troutman scored off a putback and a layup.
Knight had 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and he and Julius Page held Notre Dame's Chris Thomas to five points on 2-of-15 shooting. Thomas was averaging 17.4 points.
``He threw up some questionable shots, and he was kind of pressing a little bit to get them back into the game,'' Knight said of Thomas.
Troutman added 12 points and 12 rebounds to key Pitt's 51-30 rebounding edge in the Big East opener for both teams. It also was Pitt's first Big East game in its new Petersen Events Center, and the crowd of 12,508 was into the game from the start.
Around the state
The Islanders (6-7) came in on a three-game winning streak and trailed 28-26 at halftime after leading through much of the first half.
Florida State (9-3) was holding a two-point edge, 45-43, with 10:40 left when when Pickett sprinted across the court to block a shot by Kemar Burrowes. Teammate Trevor Harvey snagged the ball and passed to Todd Galloway, who scored to kick off a 16-3 Florida State run capped by a Pickett dunk that put the Seminoles up 61-46 with 7:23 left.
Mercer (7-3, 2-0) held an eight-point lead at 61-53 with three minutes left in the game, but Jacksonville (4-9, 0-2) pulled within a point at 69-68 on Kevin Sheppard's 3-point basket with 10.2 seconds left in the game.
The 6-7 junior connected on 10 of 13 from the field, including six dunks, as the Trojans (11-3, 2-0) held off an upset bid by Stetson (1-10, 0-3).
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