PANTHERS ROLL PAST JAMES-LESS MARQUETTE
March 5, 2009
For Pitt, a Knight to Remember (Post-Gazette) as Pitt Retires Brandin Knight's Jersey (Tribune-Review) in a surprise ceremony before Pittsburgh hosted Marquette in a Big East conference game with post-season and Big East regular season implications.
No. 3 Pitt Runs Over No. 13 Marquette (Tribune-review), 90-75, before a Peterson Events Center sell-out crowd of 12,508. It was the 20th consecutive home win for Jamie Dixon's club and a school-record 14th Big East win in a season.
After taking a 43-36 lead at halftime, Pitt forgot there was another 20 minutes to play as the Golden Eagles stunned the Panthers with a lightning quick 21-5 run in under four-minutes to take a 57-48 lead. Pitt answered...and asnwered again...and again...leaving Marquette Feeling Down and Out (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) after their third loss in a row as they have played without injured Dominic James in all but four minutes of those three games against Pitt, Connecticut and Louisville.
Pitt quickly knotted the score at 57, with a 9-0 spurt of their own that took all of two minutes. After a Lazar Hayward three-pointer gave MU a lead at 60-57, Pitt them embarked on a 28-5 run over 10 minutes to give them an 85-65 lead with 3:20 remaining and chants of 'We Want UConn' echoed through the 'Pete' as fans began to look forward to this Saturday's showdown with the No. 1 Huskies.
All told, after Marquette's run to take the 57-48 lead, Pitt responded by outscoring MU 37-8 over the next 12:40 of the game in a barrage as impressive to see as it sounds. DeJuan Blair (23 points) scored inside, Sam Young (18 points) scored in transition, Levance Fields (17 points, 10 assists, 2 turnovers) orchestrated the attack with key buckets by Gilbert Brown (11 points) and Jermaine Dixon (13 points) came when necessary. Besides the five players who scored in double figures, Pitt managed to shoot 63% from the floor and owned a sparkling 2:1 (22 to 11) assist to turnover ratio.
While losing to Pitt, UConn and Louisville has no shame, the question will certainly be asked of Marquette if they can win without Dominic James. Their next chance to answer that question positively comes Saturday at home against Syracuse in what will be an emotional senior day for the Marquette program. It will be the last home game for Jerel McNeal, Wesley Mathews and Dwight Burke and also a chance for their crowd to say 'thank you' to Dominic James as well. However, the hard truth is, James is lost for the season and James' Absence is Expected to Lower Eagles' Seeding (Journal-Sentinel) for the NCAA Tournament, unless they can do a quick about-face starting against the Orange and into the 2009 Big East Tournament next week.
McNeal led MU with 23 points at Pitt, shooting 8-24 from the field. Hayward added 22 points and 10 rebounds and Mathews added 16. Marquette, which started 9-13 from three-point range, missed 12 of their final 13 from the arc as Pitt assumed control of the game.
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