Pitt seniors have their day at last

Big East Tournament First Round: Pitt 73, St. John's 59
March 7, 2012 10:36 am
  • Pitt's J.J. Moore goes hard to the basket against St. John's Moe Harkless in the Panthers' first-round victory Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
    Pitt's J.J. Moore goes hard to the basket against St. John's Moe Harkless in the Panthers' first-round victory Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
  • Jamie Dixon vents on the sideline.
    Jamie Dixon vents on the sideline.
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NEW YORK -- Nasir Robinson signaled for the alley-oop pass from Tray Woodall, and he wasn't about to let his point guard down. So Pitt's 6-foot-5 power forward leapt into the air, grabbed the high-arcing pass and authoritatively dunked.

No big deal, right? It happens all time in college basketball. But, for Robinson, it represented the first dunk of his career. It came at the right time, too.

Robinson's flush came in the midst of a game-defining run late in the first half and gave his teammates the momentum necessary to run away from St. John's for a 73-59 victory in the first round of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.

"I didn't know he could dunk," sophomore Lamar Patterson joked in the locker room, just loud enough for Robinson to hear him. "He surprised me. I never saw him dunk before in my life."

Scouting report
  • Matchup: Pitt (17-15) vs. Georgetown (22-7), 2 p.m. today, Madison Square Garden, New York.
  • TV, radio, Internet: ESPN, KDKA-FM (93.7), www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
  • Pitt: Beat St. John's, 73-59, to advance to second round. ... Beat Georgetown, 72-60, Jan. 28 at Petersen Events Center. ... Senior F Nasir Robinson scored 23 points in that game ... Robinson was 9 for 9 from the field. ... Sophomore F Lamar Patterson had 18 points and seven assists against the Hoyas.
  • Georgetown: Received bye to second round. ... Won five of its final seven games to end the regular season with the lone losses coming against No. 2-ranked Syracuse and No. 8 Marquette. ... Led by Jason Clark (14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Hollis Thompson (13.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Henry Sims (11.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg). ... Thompson is one of the top 3-point shooters in the country, making 45.8 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. ... Allows only 59 points per game.
  • Hidden stat: The Panthers have won five of the past six meetings against Georgetown and are 11-6 against the Hoyas since the 2001-02 season.

But Patterson wasn't joking when he said the play turned the tide of the game. It came on a fastbreak with 15 seconds remaining before halftime, and it capped a 13-2 run that left Pitt with a 33-28 lead at intermission.

"We needed that momentum and we just brought that momentum out in the second half," Patterson said. "It was a big play. A senior gave it to us, and it's what we needed."

Robinson and fellow senior Ashton Gibbs played like they wanted to stick around for a little while this week. No one on the roster had ever experienced a victory at the Big East tournament, and the seniors were 0 for 3.

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.
First Published 2012-03-06 23:10:30

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