Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt 84, E. Washington 51 Early Surge Sparks Big Win

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt 84, E. Washington 51 Early Surge Sparks Big Win

Article excerpt

Eastern Washington won the Big Sky Conference tournament in the spring and got to the NCAA tournament. Even though the Eagles lost some key players from that team, they seemed to be an opponent capable of pushing Pitt a little bit.

That wasn't the case, though, as they were overmatched. The Panthers' size, strength and athleticism was too much for them to handle when the two teams met Friday night.

Pitt (7-1) took control early and cruised to an 84-51 win before a crowd of 7,614 at Petersen Events Center in the first game of the Gotham Classic.

"I wish we could have made the game a little bit better for them," Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford said. "Maybe show a little bit of fight or at least hold onto their leg a little bit. But we were a welterweight fighting a heavyweight here [Friday night].

"We took one punch and we weren't knocked out, but we laid on the ground and hoped we could get our purse and leave, and that's why it was an ugly game."

"I've been a Division I head coach for five years, this Pitt team is the best team I've ever coached against. They come with a great mindset. I think coach [Jamie Dixon] is going to have a pretty good season with these guys."

The Eagles showed some fight early, but once the Panthers turned up the heat, Eastern Washington (5-5) wilted and fell way behind.

The Eagles hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull to within 7-6 before the Panthers made a 15-0 run and took a 22-6 lead on a 3- pointer by Chris Jones with 13:07 left in the first half, and, realistically, the game was over.

Jamel Artis said the key to that big run was the Panthers' ability to turn defense into offense and play inside-out as evidenced by a couple of easy baskets inside and two 3-pointers that were set up by passes from the big men.

"We played good defense, and that lead to things on offense," Artis said. "We found the open man a lot and then we also were able to run some more ball screens and get some open looks, but it was more about our team defense at that point. …

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