July 31, 2010
CORK, Ireland--Pitt began its Ireland Summer Competition Tour with a 99-54 victory over the Irish National Team before 1,650 fans Saturday evening at Neptune Stadium. Pitt plays its second contest on Sunday at 2 p.m. Ireland time against the Southern Regional All-Stars. Immediately following the contest, the Panthers travel back to Dublin for a reception with Pittsburgh Steelers owner and United States Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney.
Gilbert Brown led Pitt with 22 points on 8-12 shooting (4-6 3FGM) while Ashton Gibbs finished the night with 17 points, including 15 and three 3-pointers in the first half. The Panthers also received a double-double 12-point, 10-assist performance from Brad Wanamaker and 10 points from Nasir Robinson. Dante Taylor and Talib Zanna both led the Panthers with nine rebounds apiece.
The Irish Nationals jumped out to a 6-2 lead before the Panthers went on a commanding 15-0 run. Before halftime, Pitt hit three straight 3-pointers, including two from Gibbs and one from Wanamaker to take a 42-28 lead. It led 47-36 at halftime as Gibbs led the way with 15 first half points (three 3-pointers). Pitt outscored the Irish Nationals 52-18 the rest of the way to earn the victory.
Quicker, stronger and more athletic Pitt shot 55.6 percent (38-67) from the floor, hit 50 percent of its 3-point attempts (12-24), forced 22 turnovers and outrebounded the Irish National Team 38-19. The Panthers also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds but committed 16 personal fouls and turned the ball over 16 times.
The animated crowd also witnessed several spectacular plays including a Zanna alley-oop dunk off a pass from Lamar Patterson and two Gilbert Brown dunks including a second half play where he trailed a fast break, caught a pass in mid-air and threw the ball down.
All 11 available Pitt players saw equal playing time in the contest. The Panthers started Brown and Robinson at forward, Gary McGhee at center and Wanamaker and Gibbs at the guard positions. Pitt's three freshmen--J.J. Moore, Aron Nwankwo and Cameron Wright--did not see action due to NCAA rules, but the trio will be eligible to compete in tomorrow's game (August 1st).
The game was played under FIBA international rules which are different from NCAA Division I game operation. The teams played four 10-minute quarters, timeouts were distributed on a 2-first half, 3-second half basis, the three-point and free throw lines were at international length and an international ball was used. The arena played the National Anthems of both teams and the two squads exchanged gifts before the contest. Following the games, children from the crowd mobbed both teams for autographs.
Earlier in the day, Pitt visited the Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.
For the 2010-11 season, Pitt returns four of five starters, seven of its top eight scorers, 86 percent of its scoring and 91 percent of its rebounding. In preseason rankings, Pitt is already listed as a consensus top-10 nationally ranked team.
Pitt concluded its 2009-10 season with a 25-9 overall record, a second consecutive second place finish in the Big East with a 13-5 slate, the school's ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and a No. 3 seed upon entering the tourney. Prior to the season, Pitt was unranked and picked to finish ninth in the Big East by league coaches.