Panthers fall to South Florida, 56-47
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Sophomore forward J.J. Moore's career high 21 points weren't enough for Pitt to snap its losing streak. South Florida spoiled senior day at the Petersen Events Center by beating the Panthers, 56-47, Sunday night.
The fourth consecutive loss dropped Pitt to 4-11 in Big East play. The Panthers are in danger of posting their worst-ever conference record since joining the Big East in 1982. The low-water mark was a 5-13 record that achieved three times, most recently in 1998-99 under Ralph Willard.
For Pitt, it was the seventh loss at the Petersen Events Center this season, and it's the first time since 1999-2000 that the Panthers dropped seven games at home.
Before this season, Pitt had a 149-12 record in the previous nine seasons at the Petersen Events Center.
For South Florida, it was another NCAA-resume building victory. The Bulls improved to 10-4 in conference play and set a school record with 10 Big East victories. The Bulls, who joined the Big East in 2005, were 9-9 in 2009-10, their previous best season.
Anthony Collins led South Florida with 22 points.
South Florida led 28-27 at halftime. The Bulls scored the first eight points of the second half and jumped out to a 36-27 lead four minutes in.
Moore got Pitt back into it. A bank shot as the shot clock ticked to zero and a steal and dunk trimmed the lead to 42-39, but South Florida regained control with a Toralyn Fitzpatrick 3-pointer and a layup from Augustus Gilchrist with 6:36 remaining.
A Victor Rudd layup with 2:45 remaining gave the Bulls a 51-41 lead, their biggest of the game. The Panthers were held to two field goals in the final six minutes as the Bulls finished the game with a 14-8 run.
Pitt trailed for all but 30 seconds of the first half. South Florida twice held nine-point lead, but Pitt finished the half on a 15-8 run over the final 6:35 of the half.
Moore gave Pitt its only lead after making a 3-pointer with 1:14 remaining, but Victor Rudd tipped in an offensive rebound on South Florida's next possession to give the Bulls the lead again.
Moore had 11 points in the first half for the Panthers, who had just two field goals in the first 13 ?? minutes of the game. The early offensive struggles allowed South Florida to forge ahead to a 19-10 lead. John Johnson got Pitt's run started with a 3-pointer, and Moore accounted for six points in the final 4:50 of the half.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.
First Published February 19, 2012 9:39 pm