Pitt got a long look at life without Tray Woodall last season and had disastrous results without him. The Panthers were reminded all too well of that Saturday afternoon when they had to play the final 36 minutes of regulation and overtime without their top scoring guard after a concussion sent him to the bench.
The Panthers hit a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation to force overtime, but Marquette dominated the extra period to win, 74-67, at Petersen Events Center. The loss dropped the Panthers to 12-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big East.
Junior forward Lamar Patterson scored a career-high 22 points and provided some late heroics when he drilled a 3-pointer as time expired at the end of regulation, but he received little help.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has been emphasizing getting the ball inside. He wanted to do that even more without Woodall available, but the starting frontcourt provided only seven points, and junior power forward Talib Zanna, the team's leading scorer and most consistent player, played his worst game this season. He was 1 for 9 from the field and finished with three points.
Freshman center Steven Adams scored four points and was 0 for 3 from the free-throw line as the Panthers were 13 for 26 from there.
"We wanted to get the ball inside and finish, but, obviously, if you don't make free throws and layups, you won't have success," Dixon said. "We had opportunities but we didn't finish at the rate you want to, and you have to make the free throws. That's a part of it."
Marquette (12-3, 3-0) was 23 for 30 from the line and shot 48 percent from the field. Guard Vander Blue scored 22 points and continually drove past Pitt's guards. When he wasn't scoring on those plays, he was getting fouled and making 9 of 10 from the line.
"That was something we were emphasizing and talking about, but they beat us off the dribble too many times," Dixon said. "It hurt us. It put guys out of position, and that has been constant. We simply didn't get it done. We didn't do what we had to do, keeping them in front. That's why they shoot 61 percent in the first half. It's clearly not good enough."
The same problems plagued Pitt in all three conference losses -- perimeter defense, rebounding and offensive execution. This time, Marquette won the rebounding battle, 38-33. The Golden Eagles grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and outscored the Panthers, 28-18, in the lane.
The Panthers shot 39 percent and had a hard time getting good shots against Marquette, which switched frequently between man-to-man and zone defenses.
Even with the shoddy defense, shoddier rebounding and inconsistent offense, the Panthers were able to force overtime with a little help from Marquette. Lots of help, actually.
Patterson cut the lead to three with 23 seconds remaining when he made a free throw. Marquette inbounded the ball to 6-foot-8, 290-pound center Davantae Gardner, who dribbled over the half-court line and then launched a pass that landed in the Pitt band section.
James Robinson missed a 3-pointer, but the rebound deflected off a Marquette player out of bounds with 1.2 seconds on the clock. On the inbounds play, Robinson found a wide-open Patterson at the top of the key for the tying basket.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said Trent Lockett, the player who was supposed to be guarding Patterson, froze. The split second of indecision allowed Patterson to hit the shot.
"We looked like a bunch of clowns," Williams said.
The Panthers failed to capitalize on the momentum. In the first two minutes of overtime, they had a turnover and missed two shots. By that time, Marquette had a four-point lead.
"I think we did it to ourselves," Patterson said. "We took a couple of errant shots to start the overtime. Marquette didn't do much. They made free throws. We hurt ourselves."
Patterson was 6 for 7 from 3-point range and single-handedly kept the Panthers in the game. He scored more points than the other four starters combined. Patterson was 7 for 9 from the field overall while the other four starters were 7 for 23.
Patterson said the Panthers struggled to find an offensive rhythm without Woodall, but he pinned the loss on the team's inability to rebound.
"He's our leader, our captain," Patterson said. "When you lose anyone that important, you definitely have to find a different rhythm."
NOTES -- Dixon said Woodall will be re-evaluated after 48 hours. ... Pitt's next game is Wednesday night at Villanova. ... Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan injured an ankle and only played two minutes after halftime. ... Gardner was 6 for 6 from the field with 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench. ... Marquette's bench outscored Pitt, 35-26.
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published January 13, 2013 5:00 AM