PITTSBURGH – J.J. Moore had five of his team-high 16 points in overtime, and Pittsburgh set a school record for largest halftime deficit overcome with a 72-62 victory over Oakland on Saturday night.
The Panthers (4-0) trailed by 14 at the half and by as many as 18 in the second half, the third-largest deficit they’ve come back from at any point in a game for a win. Pitt went on a 7-0 run over the final 59 seconds of regulation to force overtime.
Pitt dominated the extra session; scoring 11 of the first 13 points in overtime, including a James Robinson jumper that survived a video review to be sure it beat the shot clock.
The Panthers improved to 95-3 against nonconference opponents in the 10-year history of the Petersen Events Center.
Corey Petros had 19 points for the Golden Grizzlies (1-3), who have never beaten a Big East opponent.
Out to beat an opponent from any of the six major conferences for the third consecutive season, Oakland shot 46.8 percent (22 of 47) from the field. The Grizzlies took the lead with a 24-8 run midway through the first half.
Pitt wouldn’t pull even until a pair of free throws by Robinson with 10 seconds left.
The Panthers even had a chance to win it at the buzzer after forcing a turnover but Tray Woodall’s jumper didn’t fall.
No matter, riding a wave of momentum – and with two of Oakland’s starters fouled out – Pitt controlled overtime, outscoring Oakland 14-4.
The only larger second-half deficit Pitt had overcome in its program’s history was 52 years ago – the Panthers came back from down 22 to beat Purdue on Dec. 2, 1960.
Pitt had only erased a seven-point deficit over the final 1:30 of regulation once before, a triple-overtime win against West Virginia Feb. 12, 2010.
Petros added a game-high nine rebounds, Travis Bader had 16 points and Duke Mondy chipped in with 14 points for the Grizzles.
Robinson had 14 points and Dante Taylor had 12 for Pitt, which had won its first three games by an average of 30.7 points and hadn’t trailed by more than three at any point yet this season coming in.
The Panthers lost only 14 times in the first eight years of the Petersen Events Center but lost five home games last season. They entered Saturday having won 47 of 48 nonconference games in November at “The Pete.”
But with two true freshmen in the starting lineup, Pitt went cold from the field and allowed Oakland too many easy baskets. The Panthers shot 30.8 percent (8 of 26) from the field in the first half and 7 for 24 from 3-point range for the game.
The Panthers’ record for largest halftime deficit overcome for a victory was 13, against Duquesne three years ago. Oakland led 34-20 at halftime, and the Golden Grizzlies’ Bader hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute into the second half to extend his team’s lead to 17.
Eight-and-a-half minutes into the half, a free throw by Drew Valentine extended Oakland’s lead to 48-30.
But Pitt answered by hitting 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to get back to within 12. When Woodall found prized freshman Steven Adams for a dunk to pull Pitt to within single digits with 7:44 to play, the student section known as the “Oakland Zoo” – named after the Pittsburgh neighborhood Pitt’s campus resides in – erupted.
Oakland came to Pittsburgh having lost games earlier in the week at Louisiana-Lafayette and Boise State. They made 18 of their first 33 shots Saturday before Pitt went on a 13-3 run to make it 53-49 with 5:25 left.
The Panthers forced eight turnovers over the final 3:01 of regulation.
Pitt played without sophomore guard Cameron Wright, whose father recently passed away.