Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Senior Leaders Patterson, Zanna Show They Have What It Take

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Senior Leaders Patterson, Zanna Show They Have What It Take

Article excerpt

It is true Pitt has a good class of freshmen and some talented underclassmen, and that means the future for the Panthers should be very bright.

But their 78-69 win against Penn State Tuesday in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game at Petersen Events Center also was a reminder that there is no substitute for senior leadership and experience when it comes to winning tight games.

When the Panthers, who struggled offensively for long stretches of the game, needed a spark in the second half to make a surge, they turned to seniors Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson -- and the two delivered.

Zanna and Patterson combined for only six points in the first half, but in the second they combined for 26. Zanna also had a huge steal and blocked four second-half shots.

"That's what the [younger players] expect from us as senior leaders," Patterson said. "But it wasn't just offensively, it was defensively, as well. Talib got a block and then the steal, and I think that is Pitt basketball right there, doing it on both ends of the floor."

Zanna said in the first half that he wasn't as aggressive as he needed to be, but he knew in the second half that the Panthers would get back to their game plan of trying to get the ball inside and take advantage of an area where the Nittany Lions have struggled.

Pitt guard James Robinson said the two seniors took over in the second half.

"I was in foul trouble for the majority of the game, so when I got back into the game late I just tried to bring some energy and help us win," Robinson said. "But I thought Talib and Lamar did a great job of putting us on their back [Tuesday night] and when I got back in, I just wanted to contribute any way I could.

"I thought [Patterson and Zanna] brought more energy in the second half than we had to start the game. Talib had a lot of energy on both ends of the court and Lamar, with his playmaking ability, got us going and the younger guys just follow their lead and rallied around them. …

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