for this game

Ramon's sharpshooting helps Pittsburgh top Georgetown

Jan 15, 2008 - 8:44 AM By Brad Everett PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Many wondered how an injury-depleted Pittsburgh team would fare this season after losing two key starters for extended periods of time. On Monday night against Georgetown, the Panthers answered those questions in a resounding way.

Ronald Ramon scored 18 points, including two big second-half 3-pointers that ignited runs, as No. 16 Pittsburgh topped sixth-ranked Georgetown, 69-60, in a Big East Conference clash.

Keith Benjamin also scored 18 points and freshman center DeJuan Blair added 15 and nine rebounds for the Panthers (15-2, 3-1 Big East), who extended their winning streak at the Petersen Event Center to 13 games.

The 6-foot-7 Blair also did an excellent job defending 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoyas (13-2, 3-1).

"He's a big guy," Blair said of Hibbert. "I didn't realize how big he was until tonight. But I thought I did a good job."

It was the third conference win in a row for Pittsburgh, which dropped its first league game - and two games overall - just after losing point guard Levance Fields (fractured foot) and small forward Mike Cook (torn ACL) to injuries in back-to-back games in late December.

"This is a very big win," Benjamin said. "We're going to keep playing hard, no matter how many men we're down. That's just how it's going to be. That's what the city wants. That what we want."

Jonathan Wallace led Georgetown with 14 points. The Hoyas, who came into the contest with the league's only unblemished conference record, also got 10 points from reserve forward Vernon Macklin.

"I think they are one of the more balanced teams in our league," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of Pittsburgh. "Their talent level is extremely high. The guys that are now playing more minutes, now seem more comfortable out there. That's what they do. And they did a good job of it today."

Up 27-26 at halftime, the Panthers came out strong in the second half behind a 7-0 run was capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Ramon and Benjamin. Another basket from the arc by Ramon nearly five minutes later gave Pittsburgh a 45-34 advantage with 12:31 remaining.

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Ramon finished 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and continues to up his play after moving from shooting guard to point guard in wake of the injuries.

"My teammates have been telling me to look for my shot a little more," said Ramon, who has made a team-high 31 3-pointers this season. "I just try to do what's best for the team, and then I when I do get an open look, I just try to make the most it."

The Hoyas cut the deficit to three points at 47-44 with nine minutes remaining after back-to-back baskets by Patrick Ewing Jr., but an ensuing 7-2 run by the Panthers ensured Georgetown would get no closer.

Pittsburgh outrebounded Georgetown, 37-33, and attempted twice as many free throws as the Hoyas (26-13).

"It was just a tough game all-around," Hibbert said. "I wasn't playing my best. I think we were all a little off today. I think we all need to grow up and learn from this."

Blair scored over Hibbert just 20 seconds into the game, and the Panthers maintained that lead throughout the first half. Pittsburgh took its biggest lead of the opening half at 8-2 on a 3-pointer by Ramon three minutes into the game.

The Hoyas sliced that deficit to just a single point on three occasions, including at the halftime buzzer when Wallace connected on a 3-point heave from just inside the halfcourt line.

"We have no limitations on this group," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "That's the way we've been handling it. We have no excuses and we have no limitations, and that's what we continue to focus on."