Pittsburgh's Nasir Robinson, left, gets around Duquesne's Damian Saunders. (AP)
Dec. 2, 2009
PITTSBURGH--Ashton Gibbs shook off a poor shooting night to make a pair of 3-pointers in the second overtime and Pittsburgh rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half to beat city rival Duquesne for the ninth consecutive time, 67-58 on Wednesday night.
Gibbs was 1 of 12 from the floor before hitting two of three shots plus two free throws in the second overtime, after the Panthers (6-1) surged back from a 40-24 deficit against Duquesne (5-2).
The Dukes used only one reserve for more than a couple of minutes until three players fouled out during the final college basketball game at downtown Mellon Arena.
Bill Clark scored 23 points for the Dukes, who never trailed until Brad Wanamaker's basket for Pitt put the Panthers up 55-53 with 2:14 remaining in the first overtime. The Dukes were held to only seven points in the final 17 minutes.
Gibbs scored 15 and Wanamaker 14 for Pitt, which came back from a 13-point deficit to beat Wofford 63-60 in its opener. The Panthers shot only 33.9 percent (19 of 56) to Duquesne's 31.8 percent as Dukes guards Eric Evans (3 of 17) and Jason Duty (1 of 8) made only 4 of 25 shots.
Pitt made 23 of 43 free throws to Duquesne's 7 of 14 and the Dukes were 9 of 33 to Pitt's 6 of 24 from 3-point range as both teams shot poorly.
Duquesne's Damian Saunders, averaging 16.7 points and 17.5 rebounds, was held to six points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 3:03 remaining trying to defend against Gary McGhee's dunk that made it 51-50. Pitt gained its first tie at 53-53 on Gibbs' 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining , the last basket of regulation.
Pitt matched its nine-game winning streak against Duquesne from 1982-88, when the schools occasionally played twice a season.
Clark got the Dukes off to a hot start, hitting three 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes as Duquesne seized a 9-3 lead. The Dukes, an NIT team last season as Pitt was advancing to the NCAA round of eight, led by as many as 13 in the first half.
Pitt is currently without any starters from that 31-5 team of last season and is playing without returning starter Jermaine Dixon (broken foot) and Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) but is deeper off the bench than Duquesne, which is missing star guard Melquan Bolding (broken left hand). That depth began showing as Pitt went on a 16-5 run that cut it to 45-40 with 9:48 remaining, and Gibbs' two free throws later made it 51-48.
Duquesne was trying to work for a possible game-winning basket in the final seconds, but Evans muffed a pass out of bounds with 8.5 seconds remaining and Pitt couldn't get off a shot before the horn sounded.
The Dukes were the home team in the last scheduled college game at the 48-year-old Mellon Arena, where they played from 1964-88 and Pitt staged most of its top Big East games in the 1980s and 1990s. Pitt and Duquesne hadn't played there since 2001.
The Dukes played their 355th game at the downtown arena, where they once drew crowds so small during the 1980s that announcer Ray Goss' voice could clearly be heard rows away from courtside. Pitt played its 113th game there , four against No. 1-ranked teams, all losses, including a 1961 loss to top-ranked Ohio State.
The arena, originally called the Civic Arena, also was the short-lived home in the late 1960s of an ABA championship team featuring Connie Hawkins.