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Pitt pulls away to beat South Florida

Feb 17, 2011 - 4:42 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Nasir Robinson and Brad Wanamaker scored 13 points apiece, helping fourth-ranked Pittsburgh pull away down the stretch to beat South Florida, 67-55, at Petersen Events Center.

Talib Zanna and Gilbert Brown both netted 11 for the Panthers (24-2, 12-1 Big East), who were ahead by one with 10 minutes to play. But Pitt used a 15-2 surge to gain some breathing room, then led by double digits the rest of the way.

The Panthers, still without leading scorer Ashton Gibbs because of a knee injury, have won five in a row.

Shaun Noriega netted 11 points for the Bulls (8-19, 2-12), who dropped their fifth consecutive game, at least in part because they were out-rebounded by a 40-18 margin.

Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said the rebounding disparity was partly the result of missed tip-ins by his team. But he said he was "very excited" by the rebounding effort.

"They played zone and that's how you beat the zone, with offensive rebounding," Dixon said. "That was key. We made them take a lot of jump shots. At times our defense was giving up baskets, but that was because they made some tough shots."

Noriega drained back-to-back threes in the final minute of the first half to get the Bulls within 36-29 at the break, making the score more like it was for most of the opening 20 minutes.

The teams had traded baskets and the lead before Pitt scored 10 consecutive points to open up a 30-20 advantage with five minutes left. The Panthers expanded their lead to 13 before Noriega's long-distance shots narrowed the margin.

South Florida then scored six consecutive points shortly into the second half to trim the deficit again, making it a 38-35 contest on Jarrid Famous' layup.

The Bulls were within 45-44 when Famous made two free throws about midway through the half.

But Robinson began Pitt's run by making 1-of-2 at the line. Gary McGhee followed with a three-point play, the result of a fastbreak after Noriega missed a layup, and Wanamaker drilled a three. Robinson's bucket with six minutes to play capped the rally to give the Panthers a 54-44 advantage.

South Florida head coach Stan Heath said the turning point was the sequence in which Noriega missed and McGhee recorded the three-point play.

"That was a big swing because we missed out on the bucket and then Pitt went the other way and got a three-point play," Heath said. "It didn't seem like we could recover after that five-point swing."

South Florida wasn't able to respond to the burst, unlike the first half. After an Augustus Gilchrist basket ended Pitt's run, the Panthers netted three consecutive layups and cruised over the final two-plus minutes.

Game Notes

Pitt leads the all-time series with USF, 4-3...The Panthers have won 14 of their last 15 overall...USF made 6-of-13 three-pointers...Gilchrist and Famous both scored 10...Robinson had a game-high 10 rebounds.