PITTSBURGH (AP) James Robinson arrived at Pittsburgh with a reputation as a winner after 120 victories at DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, more than any player in the school’s history. He proved that reputation was well-earned in his fourth collegiate game when he led Pitt back from an 18-point deficit for an overtime win against Oakland on Nov. 17, 2012.
Two years later against the same opponent, Robinson did much the same, scoring 18 points, including five in the final minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime, to help Pittsburgh avoid an upset by beating Oakland 81-77 on Saturday.
”He’s really good,” Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said. ”He was two years ago as a freshman. I think he won the game for them.”
Robinson drove to the basket for a layup and drew a foul to tie the game at 70 after Oakland pulled ahead 70-63 with five minutes to play in regulation. He followed with a pair of free throws that tied the game again and ultimately sent it to overtime.
”He kind of took over,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. ”Not by scoring, but just by making the right plays.”
The point guard said the key to his heady play down the stretch was just ”staying confident” in what the team wants to do.
Michael Young led Pitt (8-3) with 19 points and seven rebounds while Cameron Wright and Chris Jones each scored 16.
Kahlil Felder finished with 23 points to lead Oakland (4-8).
Felder kept his team ahead throughout the first half, scoring 14 points in the game’s first 20 minutes. He put the Golden Grizzlies ahead 22-15 with a 3-pointer to cap an 8-0 run, then gave his team a 29-21 lead with another with three minutes left in the half.
”I was just being aggressive and playing through our offense,” Felder said, ”knocking down shots or getting a layup when we needed it.”
Jalen Hayes scored 16 points and Max Hooper added 12 off the bench.
The Panthers closed the first period on a 12-5 run to cut their deficit to a point, 34-33, capped by a tic-tac-toe inbounds play from Wright to Jones to Young for a buzzer-beating jumper to end the half.
”They had the momentum and then we took it back,” Dixon said of the play. ”We felt a lot better coming out (for the second half) then we got the lead at the start of the second half.”
The teams traded baskets to start the second half with neither team leading by more than four points through the first 11 minutes. The game featured seven ties and 23 lead changes.
Pitt took a 59-55 lead at the 11-minute mark but the Golden Grizzlies reclaimed it at 61-59 with 9:05 left on a putback by Dante Williams. The basket was part of a 13-2 run, giving them a 68-61 edge with 5:25 left.
The Panthers managed to tie the game again at 72 in the final minutes after Robinson converted a three-point play on a drive to the basket then made a pair of free throws. After Felder was called for a travel, Wright missed a midrange jumper as time expired to send the game to overtime.
Oakland: The overtime contest was the third in 12 games this season for the Golden Grizzlies, and they are now 1-2 in overtime games. After leading 34-33 at halftime, Oakland lost for the first time this season after leading at the half.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers’ victory extended their home nonconference winning streak to 28 games, the nation’s sixth-best run. Pitt has also won its last six overtime contests.
PLAY OF THE GAME
After Josh Newkirk made a pair of free throws and cut the Panthers’ deficit to 70-67 with 3:37 left in regulation, Oakland broke Pitt’s full-court press resulting in a 2-on-1 for Oakland’s Jalen Hayes and Corey Petros against Michael Young. As Hayes rose for a layup, Young stepped in to draw a charge for Hayes’ fifth foul. On the next possession, James Robinson made a jumper to pull the Panthers within a point.
”That was the play of the game in my mind,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
Oakland plays at Clemson Monday.
Pittsburgh is host to Holy Cross Tuesday.