Dec. 4, 2010
PITTSBURGH (AP) -
Jamie Dixon is closing in on his 200th coaching victory at Pitt. Perhaps by the time he gets to No. 300, the Panthers will have lost another non-conference home game.
Brad Wanamaker had 16 points and 11 assists and No. 3 Pittsburgh used its man-to-man defense and patient offense to slow down Rider's 3-point shooters during an 87-68 victory on Saturday.
They are 81-1 against non-Big East opponents at the Petersen Events Center, where they are 138-11 overall - a statistic that remained on the scoreboard 40 minutes after the game ended.
Pitt, outscoring its home-court opponents by nearly 27 points per game, is 9-0 for the eighth time in nine seasons.
"There are teams losing every night to teams from different conferences," Dixon said after his 197th victory at Pitt. "We continue to challenge ourselves in practice to get better. It's why we continue to have success from year to year. Every game is an opportunity to get better."
The focus going into this game was cutting down on turnovers and being patient on offense. The Panthers responded by having 27 assists to six turnovers and shooting 53.4 percent.
"They make you guard them for 20, 25 seconds. You bounce off a lot of screens by some big, physical bodies," Rider coach Tommy Dempsey said. "Their shot selection is very good, and you have to try to grind every possession. That wears on teams. They never make it easy."
Rider (5-4) was No. 7 nationally in 3-point shooting at 44.6 percent, only to go 7 of 21 (33 percent). Mike Ringgold, Wanamaker's high school teammate at Philadelphia Roman Catholic, scored 24 points on 12 of 16 shooting but didn't attempt a 3.
Justin Robinson, averaging 15.6 points, didn't score until 90 seconds into the second half, and Pitt was already leading by 15.
"We made it tough on him to get into a rhythm," Wanamaker said.
Robinson finished with 11 points after missing his first eight shots.
"If you're playing one of the best teams in the country and your leading scorer doesn't score in the first half, that's tough," Dempsey said. "It becomes even a taller task."
Pitt immediately went on a 10-0 run to make it 59-36 after Robinson finally scored, with Wanamaker contributing a basket and two free throws. Wanamaker also played a strong defensive game as Pitt's size and aggressive defenders repeatedly forced the Broncs to launch their 3s from well beyond the arc.
"He's ice out there," Dempsey said of Wanamaker, who didn't commit a turnover. "He doesn't make a mistake, he doesn't take a bad shot."
Despite matching its season low with 35 rebounds, Pitt outrebounded the Broncs by 10. Pitt came in leading all Division I teams with a 16.8 rebounds per game advantage.
Rider, which has beaten Southern Cal and TCU, was coming off an 88-59 victory Thursday over Manhattan in which it made 10 of 19 from 3-point range. Brandon Penn, who had 26 points in that game, also didn't score until deep into the game, finally getting his first basket with 1:05 left in the first half. He ended with 11.
Until then, only two Rider players had scored - Ringgold with 14 and Novar Gadson with 10. Gadson didn't score in the second half.
The Panthers started slowly, falling behind 7-2 - a start similar to that of Wednesday, when they trailed city rival Duquesne 9-2 before pulling away for an 80-66 victory. This time, they came back with a 9-0 run finished off by Wanamaker's layup that made it 11-7, and they later opened first half leads of as many as 17 points.
"I had a tough game against Duquesne, but I put it behind me," said Wanamaker, who had seven turnovers in that game. "It's a long season. We've been working in practice on finding the open guy for shots."
Dixon, in his eighth season, needs three more victories to become only the second Pitt basketball coach to win 200 games. H.C. "Doc" Carlson was 367-247 from 1922-53.