It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Pittsburgh Panthrs improved to 8-1 on the season with an 66-45 win over crosstown rival Duquesne at the CONSOL Energy Center.
"A lot of good things, and a very important win for us," head coach Jamie Dixon said afterwards.
Travon Woodall led all scorers with 24 points--a game head coach Jamie Dixon called "the best game he's had." Lamar Patterson also finished in double-figures for the Panthers with 13 points. Steven Adams led all players with 14 rebounds. Woodall's five three-pointers are a new career-high.
Woodall and Patterson acknowledged that Adams' presence not only sparked a transition game that led to a 49-33 edge in rebounding.
"It definitely helped a lot," Woodall added. "We knew we were going to need help rebounding (against Duquesne). It was definitely great to see him go out and get rebounds. He's getting more consistent."
"He can run the floor, he can finish--where he really needs to improve," Dixon said of Adams. "I thought he made some real de passes, some mice assists out of the post."
A significant point differential despite a 27 percent (10-27) shooting performance by the Panthers in the first half. That's because Duquesne put up a 24 percent shooting performance (9-24), which set the tone for the night.
Not to mention Pitt went a span of five minutes in the first half without a field goal. Talib Zanna went underneath for a layup with seven and a half minutes remaining in the first half. With 2:32 remaining in the first half, Pitt got its next field goal--a three-pointer from Woodall.
Of course, Duquesne out did them. The Dukes, down by a 17-15 margin at that 7:30 mark, went scoreless for six minutes. Johnson took a drive, drew the foul and converted the free throw at the 8:00 mark. Duquesne didn't score again until the 2:00 mark of the first half. Pitt took a 29-17 lead into halftime.
Both teams nearly shot at the same pace in the second half--Duquesne around 45 percent (5-11) and Pitt right at 50 percent (6-12) through the first ten minutes of the second half. Had the Dukes shot this well during that five-minute scoreless stretch, they might have caught up. Instead, it was a game of each team playing to the level of competition.
Not to mention, Duquesne had no answer for Woodall's three-point shooting. Adams had the most dominating game of his career in the paint. It sounds like the freshman seven-footer is establishing more of a comfort level.
"He's been getting more comfortable in practice," Woodall noted.
But the big story may be Woodall's 24-point performance. Dixon dished out a rare 'best game' compliment. He also talked about how Woodall's shooting has improved from his freshman year to now.
"In the second half, I though (shooting) was something he did good," Dixon said. "The big thing is his shot selection."
Dixon has commented on the importance of the City Game many times before. Tonight was Jim Ferry's coaching debut in the annual rivalry, leading the Dukes in his first year. In addition to saying that Pitt was 'significantly better' than Georgetown--another common opponent he's already played--he cited the importance of this inter-conference rivalry.
"I look forward to being involved in this (City Game) for a long time," Ferry said. "Everybody's flip-flopping (conferences) and everybody's changing. For Pitt and West Virginia not to be playing, shame on both of them."