No. 10 Pittsburgh 86, Rider 78

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2011
Ashton Gibbs scored 24 points, including the clinching 3-pointer with a minute remaining, and No. 10 Pittsburgh escaped Rider 86-78 on Sunday night. Nasir Robinson added 22 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (2-0), who trailed by as many as six in the second half but ended the game on a 16-5 run to win their 58th straight nonconference game at the Petersen Events Center. Anthony Myles led the Broncs (0-2) with 20 points but Rider - which dressed nine players and played just seven - ran out of steam in the final 5 minutes. Brandon Penn hit a 3-pointer to give Rider a 73-72 lead, but Dante Taylor kickstarted a late Pitt surge that Gibbs capped with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Pitt up 82-76. The Panthers, who cruised to a 33-point win over Albany in their season-opener Friday, appeared to be on their way to another rout as hot shooting from Gibbs and Travon Woodall helped build a quick 14-point lead. Yet Rider - which was whipped by Robert Morris on Friday - didn't back down even while playing with a short-handed bench. Guard Tommy Pereria and center Dera Nd-Ezuma both missed the game with injuries. Freshman forward Junior Fortunat is still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA and Jonathon Thompson is serving a suspension for a violation of team rules last season. No matter, Rider used a 13-2 run to get back in it as Pitt looked a little bored at times, particularly on defense. Then again, the offense wasn't so sharp when the ball wasn't in Gibbs' hands. At one point Dixon gestured angrily as reserve forward Talib Zanna threw the ball out of bounds trying to find Gibbs on the wing. It wouldn't be enough to snap the Panthers out of their slumber. Rider eventually tied it at 45 on a 3-pointer by Jones just before the halftime buzzer, sending the Broncs racing to the locker room while Dixon stalked off behind his sleepy team. Rider's 45 points were the second-most the Panthers have ever allowed in a half at home since the Petersen Events Center opened. Big East rival Notre Dame once dropped 46 in a half against the Panthers, though Pitt came back to win that game in overtime. The Panthers didn't have to work quite as long this time, though they appeared to be in serious trouble when a dunk by Rider's Anthony Myles gave the Broncs, picked to finish fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in the preseason, a 61-55 lead with 11:40 to go. Pitt's defense finally awoke and the Panthers found enough focus to improve to 81-0 all-time at the Pete against nonconference opponents in November and December. Woodall finished with 17 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Panthers, who won despite allowing Rider to shoot 53 percent from the floor.
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