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Pitt pulls away to win 13th straight City Game over Duquesne

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Cameron Wright had 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists as Pitt blew open a close game at halftime and cruised to an 84-67 blowout of Duquesne in the City Game, Pitt's 13th consecutive win in a once competitive rivalry.

Pitt (7-0) continued their trend of storming out of the gate in the opening minutes, as the Panthers had a double-digit lead before the game was five minutes old. Duquesne (2-3), led by 20 points from senior Ovie Soko, roared back to take the lead and only trailed by four at halftime.

Pitt turned things around in the second half, however, and slowly pulled away.

Lamar Patterson had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assits for Pitt. Talib Zanna (13) and Durand Johnson (11) also hit double-figures for the Panthers, and guard James Robinson added 9 assists.

Jeremiah Jones scored 13 and Derrick Colter added 11 for Duquesne.

The game was a mismatch early as Duquesne missed five of their first six shots and turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes while Pitt took a 14-3 lead.

Then Pitt went cold and the Dukes heated up.

Duquesne went on a 22-7 run, sparked by Desmond Ridenour's seven points and carried by Soko's eight, to take a 25-21 lead with seven minutes remaining in the opening half.

Soko, a 6-8 graduate transfer from Alabama-Birmingham, was a force in the paint and made things difficult for the Panthers in the first half.

"Anywhere we go, Ovie Soko is going to be one of the best players on the basketball court," said Duquesne coach Jim Ferry. "And certainly tonight, when he was guarded by (Michael) Young and (Jamel) Artis, those guys are freshmen. I think they are going to be really good players, but they're freshmen and he's a fifth-year senior."

Young fouled out, as did senior Talib Zanna, who guarded Soko a lot in the second half. Soko made only 3 of 10 field goals, but got to the foul line 20 times.

"He's going to force some fouls," said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. "He's a hard guard for a bigger guy and he's going to get some."

Soko could have a greater impact on the game had he made more foul shots. He was just 11-20 from the line and Duquesne was 18-35 from the stripe as a team.

"It's focus," said Soko of his troubles from the line. "We shoot free throws every day in practice. When you're playing against a team as good as Pitt, you can't leave that many free throws on the line. You have to make them pay."

Pitt ended the half with a 15-7 run to take a 39-35 into the locker room.

The Dukes came out firing in the second half, however, as Derrick Colter and Tra'Vaughn White combined to drain three 3-pointers to give Duquesne a 44-41 lead two minutes into the half.

Pitt answered with a 15-1 run, however, to take a 56-45 lead with 12 minutes remaining. A 7-0 run made the score 69-54 with 7:31 left.

"I don't think the defensive intensity stopped, they just started making shots," said Duquesne guard Jeremiah Jones.

The Pitt defense tightened up in the second half as well as Duquesne made just one field goal during a six minute stretch midway through the half. After shooting 48 percent in the opening 20 minutes, the Dukes' made just 8 of 25 shots in the second half as Pitt ran away with the victory.

The Panthers are back in action on Tuesday when they host Penn State at the Petersen Events Center, while Duquesne hosts Maryland-Baltimore County at the A.J. Palumbo Center on Wednesday.

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