Ashton Gibb, right, shoots in front of Robert Morris' Karon Abraham in the first half.
Feb. 8, 2010
PITTSBURGH (AP)--Ashton Gibbs and Jermaine Dixon led a mid-game surge as No. 25 Pittsburgh broke out of a tie late in the first half by scoring 27 of the next 32 points, and remained unbeaten against city rival Robert Morris with a 77-53 victory Monday night.
Gibbs scored 20 points, only the second time in 10 games he's reached the 20-point mark, and Dixon had 18 points and six rebounds while holding Colonials leading scorer Karon Abraham to two points over the final 24 1/2 minutes. Brad Wanamaker added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers.
Pitt (18-6) won its second game in three days after losing four of five and ended a nine-game winning streak by Robert Morris (16-9) for the second straight season. The Panthers took control by breaking out of a 32-all tie with 2:38 left in the first half and led 59-37 with 12:18 remaining.
Abraham scored 16 points, but didn't have a basket after hitting a 3-pointer with 5:34 left in the first half. His only points of the second half were two free throws with Pitt leading by 22 points with 6:06 remaining. Russell Johnson scored 11 points and Velton Jones and Mezie Nwigwe had 10 each for the Colonials.
For most of the first half, this was a rarity in the all-Pittsburgh matchup: a close game. Pitt is 28-0 in the series, all on its home court, with every victory by at least eight points. Since 1999, the Panthers' average winning margin is nearly 24 points.
The Colonials, an NCAA tournament team out of the Northeast Conference last season, took advantage of Abraham's fast start to go ahead 19-13. The 5-foot-9 freshman had 14 points as Pitt led only 30-29 late in the half, but he wasn't a factor offensively the rest of the game.
Once Abraham stopped scoring, the Colonials did, too. Pitt scored seven of the final eight points of the first half to take a 39-33 lead. Gilbert Brown's tip-in with 2:18 remaining--his first basket of the game--broke the 32-all tie and preceded Dixon's 3-pointer and Brown's own baseline drive.
Brown has been a streaky scorer lately, getting 25 points against South Florida and 23 against Seton Hall but not scoring against West Virginia while the Panthers were losing four of six. He finished with six points.
Gary McGhee didn't score in the first half, but dunked for the first two baskets of the second half as Pitt scored the first eight points after halftime to extend its run to 15-1. Robert Morris managed only a free throw by Rob Robinson over a span of 5:24, and had only three baskets during a stretch lasting 13 1/2 minutes in which Pitt took a 57-37 lead.
Pitt won its 47th consecutive home game against a non-conference opponent and is 75-1 against non-Big East teams in the Petersen Events Center.