By Joe Catullo Jr.
In the postgame press conference on Saturday, three Pittsburgh players began. Any question about the Panthers’ performance or keeping a perfect season alive could have been asked.
The very first question regarded Kendrick Perry and his stellar performance.
Perry finished with a game-high 28 points, four steals and four assists. Those numbers weren’t the first stats he noticed in the 91-73 defeat.
“First, I got to make some more free throws,” he said. “As I look at the sheet, I had two unforced turnovers that I think led to some easy points for them. Other than that, I was pretty satisfied.”
The Panthers (10-0) admitted they didn’t do a good job on Perry and added that their defense needs to improve. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon compared Perry to three players that the team played last year, all of whom are in the NBA.
“We really talked about his transition,” Dixon said. “We guarded him well in the half court. Most of his points came in transition.”
Behind Perry was Kamren Belin with 13 points while DJ Cole scored nine. The Penguins (7-5) shot 46.4 percent from the field but just 30 percent from beyond the 3-point line. They also shot 71.4 percent from the free throw line.
YSU coach Jerry Slocum thought the Penguins shot fairly well. The problem occurred in the paint and off the glass.
“We couldn’t handle their strength and physicality,” Slocum said. “That’s a team that just man-handled us. I think it’s one of the better shooting teams I’ve seen from Pitt, and I’ve been around the area for a long time.”
The Panthers, who are now 187-22 at the Petersen Events Center, collected 47 rebounds (20 offensive) compared to 21 from YSU. The offensive rebounds helped lead to 48 points scored in the paint.
“You learn from your mistakes. We made enough to learn from them,” Slocum said.
YSU trailed by nine points at halftime before Pitt went on a 10-2 scoring run to begin the second half. Slocum said the Penguins had opportunities to cut the deficit but couldn’t take advantage.
“We just didn’t put ourselves in that position,” Slocum said. “They went ahead, got an offensive rebound, and we were in trouble again.”
On another note, Bobby Hain exited the game midway in the second half with a bloody lip and did not return. There was no confirmation on the injury, but Slocum said that he’ll be fine. Hain finished with four points and a team-high six rebounds.
For the Panthers, Lamar Patterson scored a team-high 18 points. Talib Zanna finished with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
YSU will return home to challenge Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday beginning at 7:05 p.m.
“I’d be much happier if I scored eight points and we got a win,” Perry said. “It was a great challenge for us. We just look forward to the opportunity for that challenge and try to get better every step of the way.”