for this game

Cook, balanced attack leads Pittsburgh over Washington

Feb 18, 2007 - 12:04 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Even without a major contribution from its star, Pittsburgh continued its home dominance.

Mike Cook scored 17 points and Levance Fields added 14 as fifth-ranked Pittsburgh held off Washington, 65-61, in a non-conference contest.

Conference player of the year Aaron Gray suffered through a poor game but managed five points to surpass the 1,000-point plateau in his career for the Panthers (23-4), who rebounded from Monday's 66-53 home loss to Louisville. He also had 10 rebounds.

"When the schedule came out we were looking forward to this game and definitely after how we lost on Monday, we were looking forward to this game," Fields said. "Especially with the Pac-10 being one of the top conferences this year, we wanted to send a message."

Pittsburgh won its 19th straight home game against non-conference foes and is 47-1 at Petersen Events Center outside Big East play. The lone loss came against Bucknell on January 2, 2005.

"This was a great win against a great program," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "This game came about because we're looking at top-20 teams getting together and playing against each other and it turned out to be exactly what we anticipated. It's hard to get top-20 teams together to play non-conference but this game lived up to it and it was a great opportunity for us."

Washington (16-10) outshot Pittsburgh and held a 42-32 advantage on the glass but could not overcome 16 turnovers to the Panthers' six and were outpointed from the line, 19-6.

"We lost today to a very well-coached team," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They turned the ball over six times. They don't give you very many open looks. They dictate the pace of the game. They're just a really, really solid team.

"They turned it over 16 times in the first half (vs. Louisville); that wasn't the case here. They did a good job of taking care of the basketball. They're an impressive team."

The Huskies shot 43 percent (24-of-56) from the floor, including 7-of-11 from the arc, while the Panthers shot just 36 percent (21-of-58).

"We knew they were going to come in and pressure us and we wanted to do the same because we felt they weren't playing so good on the road," Fields said. "So we just knew we needed to turn up the intensity on D and try to force them to do things they didn't want to do and it worked."

Cook shot 6-of-11 from the field and Fields connected on all eight free-throw attempts and added four assists.

"I joked about it in practice the other day that I need to get to the free-throw line more," Fields said. "I shoot a pretty good percentage from there but I haven't shot as much as I need to. When I get there I need to execute and make sure I knock them down."

Gray shot just 2-of-7 from the floor but had two blocks and two steals before leaving the contest in the last 10 seconds with a left leg injury.

"Gray, you just can't move him, he's just so solid," Romar said. "He's the focal point of their offense and they're constantly trying to get him the basketball and yet, he was only able to get up seven shots so I thought we did a pretty good job. Spencer (Hawes) as a freshman, playing against an experienced senior, I thought he held his own."

Behind 10 points by Cook and nine by Fields, the Panthers led, 31-28, at the break. They used an 18-5 run to take a 29-23 lead. Fields scored all nine during the run. Pittsburgh trailed just once in the second half, 42-41.

"When your star is not scoring, someone else has to step up," Cook said. "We're fortunate enough to have a lot of guys on the perimeter that can step up and make shots. We know when (Gray's) struggling, we're going to step up for him just like he steps up for us when we're not putting the ball in the basket."

Fields knocked down a 3-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes left to forge a 58-54 edge. After Hawes hit a jump hook, Gray responded with a short jumper with 2:44 left to give him 1,001 points for his career.

Fields and Ronald Ramon then made two fouls shots each sandwiched around another jumper by Hawes to provided a 64-59 lead with 29 ticks to play.

Jon Brockman scored 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting and Hawes finished with 12 on 6-of-16 shooting and 12 rebounds for the Huskies, who fell to 1-7 in their last eight road games.

"We've not done very well on the road this year but today I thought maybe we turned the corner," Romar said. "We didn't win the game but in terms of how we played the game today, I was proud of how our guys approached the game."