PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Lamar Patterson scored 17 points to lead Pitt past Providence, 68-64, tonight at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
The victory moved Pitt (16-4, 4-3) into a fourth-place tie with Cincinnati. The Panthers will go for a fourth consecutive win Saturday afternoon when DePaul visits the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt led 34-27 at halftime. The Panthers boosted the lead to 10 in the early stages of the second half, but Providence (10-9, 2-5) chipped away and cut the lead to two with 7:31 remaining when LaDontae Henton made a 3-pointer.
But Pitt did not allow the Friars to complete the comeback. Durand Johnson, who had not taken a field goal attempt all game, came down on Pitt's next possession and nailed a 3-pointer. A few minutes later, J.J. Moore made another 3-pointer for a 10-point lead with 2:24 remaining.
Providence was able to cut the lead to three with 51 seconds left after Kadeem Batts made a free throw. After Tray Woodall made a jumper with 18 seconds left, Bryce Cotton made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to make it 66-64, but James Robinson drained two free throws with nine seconds to put the game out of reach.
Pitt never trailed in the first half and took its first double digit lead of the game after going on a 9-0 run midway through the half. The spurt, which yielded a 29-17 lead with 4:17 remaining, was highlighted by a steal and coast-to-coast layup by 6-foot-9 forward Talib Zanna and a 3-pointer from James Robinson.
It looked like the Panthers were going to pull away, but Cotton scored 10 of his 13 first-half points in the final 2:58 to keep the Friars close. Cotton made two 3-pointers, including one with 1:04 left for the final points before the intermission.
Providence turned the ball over 11 times in the first 20 minutes and fueled Pitt's transition offense. The Panthers took advantage and scored 14 from those turnovers. Patterson scored 11 in the half and the Panthers shot 52 percent.
Providence shot 40 percent, with Cotton going 5 for 6 from the field.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published January 23, 2013 2:15 AM