Pittsburgh holds off Connecticut 69-61By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Jan 19, 2013
James Robinson chipped in 12 points for the Panthers (15-4, 3-3 Big East), who recovered after blowing a 14-point lead in the second half.
UConn tied the game twice in the final 5 minutes but couldn’t quite get over the top. Ryan Boatright led the Huskies (12-5, 2-3) with 20 points and Omar Calhoun added 14 but couldn’t stop UConn from dropping its second straight.
Each time the Huskies pulled even, Pitt would respond. Woodall knocked down a 3-pointer after the Huskies knotted it at 55 and Robinson followed moments later with a 3-pointer of his own to break a 58-all tie.
UConn never got closer than two the rest of the way. Pitt center Dante Taylor hit both ends of a critical one-and-one, then followed with a 10-foot jumper that put the Panthers up 65-59 with a minute to go.
Boatright sank two free throws to get the Huskies within four, but UConn ran out of gas while Pitt settled down. The Panthers made 12 of 15 free throws (80 percent) in the second half.
The final regular-season meeting of two of the Big East’s winningest programs hardly resembled the gritty tug-of-wars that typically happen when Pitt and UConn meet. The two schools, who have combined for 12 regular-season or conference tournament titles over the last dozen years, are struggling to find a place in the middle of the Big East pack.
Pitt picked up a crucial road win at Villanova on Wednesday, closing the game with a 15-0 burst. Yet the Panthers came in 0-2 in conference games at the Petersen Events Center, typically one of the toughest places to play in the country.
The Huskies are still finding their way under first-year coach Kevin Ollie. They led No. 1 Louisville by six at the half last Monday, only to collapse in the final 20 minutes of a 15-point loss. Five days later, UConn still couldn’t shake out of its funk. Pitt dominated for long stretches in the first half despite having Woodall dealing with foul trouble.
The Panthers led by just three when Woodall went to the bench after just six minutes. They led by four when he returned with 8:27 to go in the half and Pitt was off to the races. The Panthers went on a 16-7 run to take a 35-22 lead at the break.
Pitt’s advantage ballooned to 47-33 before UConn got going behind Boatright and Calhoun. The Panthers couldn’t seem to find anyone to stay in front of Boatright as he attacked the rim, and when the Panthers collapsed, Boatright kicked it out to Calhoun for a 3.
UConn got all the way back on a steal and dunk by Niels Giffey, who crashed onto his back after letting go of the rim. Moments later, Woodall was in the corner knocking down a wide-open 3-pointer while Ollie shouted “Nooo!” as the ball left Woodall’s hand.
Boatright followed with a difficult layup and drew the foul. He made the free throw to knot things up again, but Robinson calmly hit a 3-pointer from almost the same spot that Woodall did and the Panthers survived.
Pitt outrebounded UConn 38-27, including 15 offensive boards.
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