Offensive struggles continue in loss
Pitt's J.J. Moore is flattened by South Florida's Ron Anderson Jr. in the first half Sunday at Petersen Events Center.
Ashton Gibbs holds up a framed jersey as he is honored on senior day Sunday night before the game against USF.
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As far as senior days go, Ashton Gibbs could not have imagined one worse than Sunday night. Pitt's leading scorer was held to a season-low two points, and the Panthers' losing ways continued with a 56-47 loss to South Florida at Petersen Events Center.
It was Pitt's second loss to South Florida in 12 days, and it was the second time Gibbs struggled. In a 63-51 loss Feb. 8, Gibbs was held to four points. In the two games against the Bulls, Gibbs was 3 for 16 from the field.
Gibbs was 1 for 7 Sunday night and the school's all-time leading 3-point scorer was held without a 3-pointer for the third time in the past four games.
"It was a mix of them playing tough defense and me missing a couple of open shots," Gibbs said in a solemn postgame. "I had some opportunities, but I didn't take advantage. They play tough defense. It's something I have to live with."
- Game: Pitt vs. Louisville.
- When: 2 p.m. Sunday.
- Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.
- TV, radio: KDKA, KDKA-FM (93.7).
South Florida senior Hugh Robertson once again was assigned to defend Gibbs and did a masterful job. It was Robertson who forced Gibbs into a 2-for-9 shooting performance in the game at South Florida.
"Wow," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "Gibbs has had a phenomenal career. He's one of the premier shooters in our conference. I can't give enough credit to Hugh Robertson. I never would have guessed we'd play two times and he'd score six points."
It was Pitt's fourth consecutive loss and dropped its record to 15-13 and 4-11 in the Big East. The Panthers are in danger of posting their worst conference record since joining the Big East in 1982. The low-water mark was 5-13 they achieved three times, most recently in 1998-99 under Ralph Willard.
It was the seventh loss at Petersen Events Center this season and the first time since 1999-2000 the Panthers lost seven games at home. Before this season, they had a 149-12 record in nine years at Petersen Events Center.
"It's devastating in the locker room," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "The players are extremely disappointed. I'm extremely saddened for the seniors. You always want to have a win with the seniors on senior night."
Freshman guard Anthony Collins spearheaded the South Florida attack with 22 points, but the Panthers had their chances. Pitt cut the lead to 42-39 with 9:24 remaining, but it went cold down the stretch, missing 9 of its next 10 shots.
The 47 points represented the second-lowest scoring output for the Panthers this season. They have been held to 51 points or fewer in three of the past four games.
"It seemed that we missed some shots, but it seemed we didn't get many good shots," Dixon said. "We've had these stretches where we're not getting to the basket and not getting to the free-throw line. That's something that really hurt us tonight. We looked to go inside more tonight. It's been an emphasis for the last week or so and yet we didn't get the production we needed out of that."
Sophomore forward J.J. Moore scored a career-high 21 points for the Panthers, but he received little help from his teammates. The Panthers shot 34 percent from the field. Take away Moore's 8 for 14 performance, and the rest of the team shot 26 percent (10 for 38).
The starting backcourt tandem of Gibbs and junior Tray Woodall accounted for four points. The starting five scored just 15 points.
"We have guys who are battling and playing hard," Dixon said. "We put in work to improve in certain areas, but we didn't see the production we wanted. It's trying to get into the lane. This is a team that does a good job defensively. They're out guarding you. You have to get by them."
South Florida led, 28-27, at halftime.
The Bulls scored the first eight points of the second half for a 36-27 lead.
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 Toarlyn Fitzpatrick 3-pointer and a layup from Augustus Gilchrist with 6:36 remaining.
Pitt could not mount another threat because the offense was so ineffective.
"They're a tough team, but at the same time we didn't live up to our capabilities," Gibbs said. "It's something we have to definitely address."
NOTES -- Pitt has a week off before playing Sunday afternoon at Louisville. ... The Panthers were outrebounded, 36-30. It was the third time in four games they have been outrebounded. ... Starting small forward Lamar Patterson was held scoreless for the first time this season. ... Reserve center Dante Taylor was 0 for 5 from the field and has not made a field goal in three of the past four games.
First Published February 20, 2012 12:00 am