*** So this is how it ended.
Pitt went 1 for 10 from the field in the final eight minutes and point guard Tray Woodall commited two costly turnovers down the stretch.
Ashton Gibbs scored a game-high 26 points in front of his home-state crowd on 9 of 20 shooting, and Lamar Patterson added 15 down the street from his high school, St. Benedict’s, but they got little other help. Nasir Robinson was 1 for 6 and Talib Zanna was 1 for 3. Robinson also missed all five of his free throw attempts. The rest of the Panthers went 14 for 15 from the line.
“We did some really good things, but not enough good things,” Dixon said.
*** Dixon said he couldn’t see senior Nasir Robinson’s flagrant foul call with 11 seconds to play.
“I couldn’t see it, so obviously I’m not going to criticize the officials,” he said. “We wish we were in a better situation than that in the first place and not have to be fouling in the end. But we fouled as quickly as we could. We thought we went for the ball.”
Robinson was whistled as he tried to send the Seton Hall’s Herb Pope to the line with Pitt down 69-66. Pope made both free throws and Seton Hall retained possession in what effectively ended any Pitt hopes. After the game, Pope said it was a “bonehead” play by Robinson, who is no stranger to costly, last-second fouls.
Robinson had a team-high nine rebounds, but finished with two points and two turnovers in 30 minutes. He has missed his past eight free throw attempts and is shooting 31 percent from the line (9 for 29) in the past 10 games. Robinson, a career 49 percent free-throw shooter, made his first seven foul shots of the season and actually led the Big East in the category in the opening week of the season.
*** Seton Hall freshman Aaron Cosby scored a season-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers. The 6-2 Louisville native also had a big steal and basket during a 10-0 second-half run that put Seton Hall ahead to stay. He hit back-to-back 3s in the first half as Seton Hall build a 31-19 lead.
“He was huge,” Dixon said.
*** Center Talib Zanna was hit with a technical foul in the first half. The normally soft-spoken Nigerian was whistled from the bench after drawing his second foul of the game, on Seton Hall’s Herb Pope. After the game, Dixon said he didn’t ask officials for any explanation of the technical call.
*** Dixon’s most telling quote of the post-game was this: “We put ourselves in a position where we have play at a high, high level and not let any get away. This one got away from us.”
*** Point guard Tray Woodall, one week after winning the national player of the year award, struggled for the second game in a row. He was 2 for 10 from the field and 1 for 5 from 3-point range. He is 6 of 23 from the field and 2 of 11 from behind the arc since his career-high 29-point game against Villanova.
*** The 11 losses are the most since 2000-01, in Ben Howland’s second season. That team reached the Big East Tournament finals and the second round of the NIT.
*** It was refreshing to hear Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard — the former Pitt point guard — admit after the game that he’s been looking at the big picture for the NCAA Tournament and not focusing on just one game, as every coach seems to say.
“We’ve actually been focused more on the big picture. Even though we had lost those (six straight) games we kind of saw what was coming ahead of us. The middle part of our schedule was a part where I thought we would get three, four, maybe even five losses, just from being on the road so much. …We knew if we could get one road win out of those three (UConn, Marquette, Rutgers) we were still right where we really kind of should be.”
“(This win) keeps us alive, that’s for sure. We don’t have an easy schedule coming up, but it keeps us alive.”
*** Gibbs said Jordan Theodore’s back-breaking desperation 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer wasn’t the whole game. It gave Seton Hall a 62-61 lead with 5:17 to play.
“It was a big play,” Gibbs said. “But there was still time left. That only put them up one point.”
*** Patterson said he should have been stronger with the rebound of a Brandon Mobley miss that would have given Pitt the ball down one with a minute to play.
“I just didn’t get it done,” Patterson said. “I was supposed to get that rebound. I just didn’t get it done. I had it. I got it and tied it up and I wasn’t strong with it.”
Other Dixon post-game quotes
“I was very proud of our guys, how we battled. We were down 12, battled back and got up six. We were playing well to get to that point. We just didn’t get it done. I thought we did the right things. I thought we had our guys in the right spots to do those things, but we came up short. As they seemed to make 3s, we seemed to miss 3s and that’s where the tide turned.”
On interior play
“I thought we moved the ball better as the game went on. I thought that we attacked their zone pretty good. We needed to get more layups. We took a lot of jump shots and didn’t finish as much as we needed to inside and even at the free throw line.”
On Zanna and Robinson going combined 1 for 9
“I think they had some good looks that didn’t go down. We’d like to have a balance offensively and defensively. I thought we did a good job getting inside. We didn’t finish great. But I don’t think they (the guards) need to feel pressure. We’ve just got to keep doing the things to get the ball inside and get inside touches and penetration against the zone and the finishes will come. We can’t get away from that because we don’t finish at a high rate for a few possessions.”
On Patterson’s tie-up rebound in the final minute
“It looked like he had it first and then it became a tie-up. That’s a play we have to come up with. We got the stop, we got the rebound and then it became a jump-ball or a possession arrow and that’s a possession we need to have to turn a one-point deficit to a lead for us. There were a lot of plays down the stretch from the point we had the six-point lead. It seemed they made shots and made free throws and we didn’t and that’s the difference.”