for this game

Wanamaker helps Pitt open season with win over Rhode Island

Nov 9, 2010 - 6:52 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Brad Wanamaker's career-high tying 24 points helped fifth-ranked Pittsburgh beat Rhode Island, 83-75, at the Petersen Events Center in a 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer regional contest.

Wanamaker also had eight assists, and Ashton Gibbs chipped in with 22 points and three assists for Pitt (1-0), which went 25-9 last year and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"He did some good things, and always has," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said of Wanamaker. "He can get better and improve. We have a long way to go. This is a game that there are no two teams of this caliber playing the first two weeks of the season; they're just not doing it. People are probably going to keep an eye on this game, and everything that happened."

The Rams (0-1), who returned three starters from last season, were led by Delroy James, who had five three-pointers and 20 total points. As a team, Rhode Island went 14-of-32 from long distance. Akeem Richmond added 16 points in defeat.

"You have to take what they give you and the three pointers were just falling down tonight," James said.

Rhode Island is coming off a season in which it finished 26-10 and lost in the NIT semifinals to North Carolina.

Pitt held only a slight 37-36 lead at halftime, and Rhode Island tied the game, 53-53, with 12 minutes left on a James three-pointer.

The Panthers, however, scored the next five points to grab the lead for good. Travon Woodall's jumper capped the short spurt, giving Pittsburgh a 58-53 lead with 9:19 to play.

The hosts' lead reached as high as eight with five minutes left before the Rams staged a late comeback. Nikola Malesevic's three with 4 1/2 minutes left pulled URI to within five, and a pair of James three-pointers made it a two- point game with 1:41 remaining.

Rhode Island was unable to draw even, as Wanamaker went 3-of-4 from the line on two trips over the next two possessions. His last of the three made free throws made it 79-74 with just over 30 seconds left, and the Rams got within striking distance down the stretch.

Rhode Island jumped to a 6-1 lead within the first minute of the game. The Rams kept the lead, 15-13, when Nikola recorded a four-point play 8 1/2 minutes in. They hung around for most of the opening 20 minutes by shooting 7- for-14 from three-point range, while Pitt struggled with only one three out of seven attempts.

The Rams took their biggest lead of the game, 36-28, when Will Martell hit a jumper with 1:31 left in the first half.

Pitt finished the last 1:20 of the half with a 9-0 run to move ahead. Gibbs made it a three-point game, 36-33, after he recorded a four-point play. The Panthers then took the lead on back-to-back steals, including a pick by Gibbs and a breakaway finish by Lamar Patterson, to end the opening half up, 37-38.

"Basketball is a game that is about momentum and we were able to get some of it going toward the end of the first half," Gibbs said. "We came out and carried that momentum into the second half with Brad making some big shots for us down the stretch"

Game Notes

Pitt leads the all-time series 6-1...Nasir Robinson did not suit up for the Panthers because he is still recovering from surgery to repair knee cartilage...Rhode Island forward Levan Shengelia left the game midway through the first half hurting his right knee...Pitt's Gilbert Brown had 10 points...Malesevic was hot from the three point line, making four of his six shots and finishing with 13 points.