Brad Wanamaker scored 24 points and Ashton Gibbs added 22 as Pitt survived a rare home scare with an 83-75 victory over Rhode Island tonight at Petersen Events Center.
The No. 5-ranked Panthers trailed by eight points in the first half and didn’t put away the Rams until the final minute of the nation’s first NCAA Division I men’s basketball game of the season.
Pitt won its 48th consecutive victory against a non-conference team at home and improved to 97-1 in its past 98 home games against a non-Big East team.
Rhode Island, trying to defeat a ranked opponent for the first time in 20 tries dating to 1999, pulled to within 76-74 on Delroy James’ 3-pointer with 1:35 to play.
With Pitt leading 77-74, Rhode Island’s Akeem Richmond missed a 3-pointer and Brad Wanamaker got the rebound with 59 seconds to play. Pitt went 6 for 6 from the line in the final minute and Gilbert Brown blocked James’ 3-point attempt with 14 seconds to play to help seal the win.
Talib Zanna added nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Pitt. James scored 20 points, with 5 3-pointers, Richmond had 16 and Nikola Malesevic 13 for the Rams, who went 14 for 31 from 3-point range.
Pitt shot 3 of 16 from behind the arc and turned the ball over 14 times. .
Trailing 36-28, Pitt ended the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 37-36 lead into the locker room.