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Rivers and NEC's Wagner shock No. 15 Pitt

Dec 24, 2011 - 4:41 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Latif Rivers and Wagner handed Pittsburgh a shocking loss at home.

Suddenly, it's become the thing to do.

Rivers scored all of his 18 points in the second half, including two foul shots with 5.9 seconds left to seal Wagner's 59-54 victory over No. 15 Pitt in the second head-scratcher at Petersen Events Center in the last six weeks.

Kenneth Ortiz added 12, Tyler Murray had 10 and Wagner (8-3) beat a ranked opponent for the first time since upsetting No. 15 Alabama on November 24, 1978.

"This is a win of high caliber," said Wagner head coach Dan Hurley. "It's huge for us."

The Seahawks were Pitt's final non-conference opponents before the start of Big East play next week. Improbably, the Panthers will head into that game Tuesday against Notre Dame off a defeat.

Despite a loss to Long Beach State November 16, which snapped Pitt's 58-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, it was hard to imagine Wagner pulling it off.

Prior to Friday, Pitt (11-2) had been 70-0 all-time against NEC opponents. The Panthers, normally among the toughest home teams in the country, have now lost two games to supposedly inferior teams in under two months.

They shot 39.6 percent, including 13.3 percent (2-for-15) from three-point range, and turned the ball over 18 times.

"I can't point to anything that we did well in the game," said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. "It's disappointing. I thought we were ready to go. We definitely took a step back and it was hard to watch."

Ashton Gibbs was the only scorer in double digits against Wagner, netting 14 points -- getting them all in the second half as Pitt scrambled to make up a 29-25 deficit at the break.

The Panthers never did. In fact, their final lead was erased with 5:57 remaining in the first half when Ortiz's layup made it 20-19 Wagner. That came during a 9-0 run, capped by Murray's three-pointer, that turned a three-point Seahawks deficit into a 25-19 advantage.

The lead ballooned as high as 12 in the second half, when Chris Martin buried one of Wagner's six three-pointers for a 44-32 game.

Pitt got it all the way down to three points several times in the last 2:31 of the half. But Rivers made six free throws in the final 59 seconds -- twice to push the lead from three points to five -- as Wagner held on.

"We didn't play well," said Dixon, "and we got what we deserved."

The Panthers had a nine-game winning streak snapped since the Long Beach State loss. Their record in 10 years at the Petersen Events Center now stands at 156-14, including 91-3 against non-conference foes.

Game Notes

Pitt beat Wagner in their only other meeting, an 87-61 victory in the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The Panthers were 2-0 vs. NEC opponents this season prior to Friday...Wagner shot almost 43 percent, showing little rust from a 13-day layoff since losing to Lehigh on December 10.

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