Jan. 13, 2001
By ALAN ROBINSON
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh hadn't beaten a ranked opponent under second-year coach Ben Howland. Now that they've done it once, they'll get a lot more opportunities to do it again.
Julius Page upstaged Seton Hall's star freshmen, making three key baskets down the stretch and Pitt avoided another collapse against a Top 25 opponent to upset the No. 15 Pirates 77-65 Saturday.
The Panthers (10-5, 2-2 in Big East) broke a halftime tie by scoring the first nine points of the second half. The Pirates (11-4, 2-2) couldn't rally despite 18 points and 12 rebounds from freshman Eddie Griffin, who returned from a one-game suspension for fighting with teammate Ty Shine.
After Page's 12-footer put Pitt up 65-59 with 3:09 remaining, Andre Barrett's 3-pointer got the Pirates to within three points. Page, a freshman who finished with 13 points, answered with a 3-pointer and Pitt went on to score 12 of the last 15 points.
Pitt beat a ranked opponent for the first time since defeating No. 23 Miami 60-54 on Jan. 30, 1999. Seton Hall was the highest-ranked opponent Pitt has beaten since a 68-56 upset of No. 4 Kentucky 68-56 on Nov. 27, 1998.
"I thought we did an outstanding job on Griffin," Howland said. "He still got his points, but it wasn't 30 points. We didn't just want to play good, solid defense, we wanted to go at them, too."
Brandin Knight, who grew up in New Jersey playing against several Pirates, made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 1:37 and had 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
"I really wanted this game because I play against these guys during the summer," Knight said. "I wanted this game probably more than any other one this year."
The Panthers are 1-2 in a stretch of five consecutive games against Top 25 teams. They lost to Syracuse and Connecticut, and still have Notre Dame and Georgetown to play. Six of their final 12 games are against teams currently ranked.
The previous Saturday, the Panthers squandered a 15-point lead on their home floor and lost to then-No. 14 Syracuse 71-66.
"We lost our composure when they started pressing us, but today we didn't turn it over to the press," Howland said. "It's too bad we let Syracuse get away from us."
The Pirates never got into an offensive rhythm and consistently hurt themselves with poor shot selection, making 5-of-24 3-pointers. Last season, they tied a Fitzgerald Field House record by making 13-of-25 3-pointers in beating Pitt 80-68.
"It was very difficult for us to make things happen," coach Tommy Amaker said. "They really wanted to win. We went to the press to try to create some energy, but Brandin Knight did an outstanding job of handling the ball and making free throws down the stretch."
Griffin had a solid game, but leading scorer Darius Lane, averaging 19.8, was held to 8 points. Seton Hall also wasn't the same after 6-foot-11 Sam Dalembert drew his fourth foul with 16:37 remaining. He had 10 points in the first half but only two in the second half.
"The loss is definitely a setback, but we don't have time to dwell on it," said Amaker, whose team returns home to play Georgetown and Syracuse.
Pitt won despite an ineffective second half by leading scorer Ricardo Greer, who reinjured a sprained ankle but continued to play. He scored 12 points, only two in the second half.
Donatas Zavackas led Pitt with 17 points and had a pair of important 3-pointers as the Panthers outscored the Pirates 42-30 in the second half. Pitt made 16-of-26 second-half shots (61.5 percent) to Seton Hall's 12-of-32 (37.5 percent).
"Against Syracuse, we played 35 minutes and the other five, I'm not sure what happened," Zavackas said. "Today, we played 40 minutes."
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