PITTSBURGH -- Talib Zanna scored six of his game-high 20 points to spark a second-half run and Pittsburgh pulled away from Delaware State for a 71-43 victory on Wednesday night.
J.J. Moore added 15 points and Steven Adams had 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Panthers (11-1), who clamped down on the Hornets in the second half to continue their December domination of a tame nonconference schedule.Delaware State (5-7) was Pitt's third Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent in the last three weeks, and after some early success the Hornets went down quietly much like Howard and Bethune-Cookman before them.Tahj Tate led Delaware State with 19 points but Delaware State couldn't keep pace when the Panthers got serious in the second half.Panthers played without backup center Dante Taylor, who sat out with a heel contusion, but Pitt hardly missed him on a night Adams and Zanna had their way. The duo outrebounded the Hornets by themselves (17-14) and Pitt outscored Delaware State 48-18 in the paint.Most of those baskets came on dunks and layups thanks to deft passing from guards Tray Woodall and James Robinson, who combined for 17 assists. The Panthers finished with 24 assists on 30 baskets and at one point registered assists on 10 straight buckets in the second half.Zanna, quickly developing into one of the better post players in the Big East, led the way. He scored the first six points of the second half, part of a 15-2 burst that helped the Panthers break things open.All seven Pitt baskets during the run came at the rim and it deflated any hopes the Hornets had of sticking around. Delaware State shot just 31 percent (6 of 19) in the second half and didn't threaten after a Zanna lay-up off a nice feed from Robinson gave Pitt a 50-32 lead.The Hornets, picked to finish second in the MEAC, hardly appeared intimidated in the early going. Delaware State took Penn State to overtime on Saturday, leading with a minute to go in the extra period before falling 80-76.Playing fearlessly, the Hornets kept it close during a tight first half. Launching shots from all over -- at one point Bell hit a 3-pointer with Trey Zeigler's hand smacking him in the face and Tate banked in a 3 from the top of the key -- Delaware State never let Pitt get comfortable.The Hornets took a brief 15-14 lead before the Panthers settled in behind Zanna, who scored four points during a 13-5 burst, though Delaware State pulled within 31-27 at the break thanks to a pull-up jumper from Tate. He followed it up by stripping Adams then racing the 7-footer down the floor and flipping in an acrobatic layup at the horn.It would be Delaware State's last gasp. Zanna dunked on Pitt's first possession of the second half and the Panthers were on their way.