MILWAUKEE – Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon was not happy to still be winless in the Big East, but he was taking a moral victory over the way his Panthers almost beat No. 25 Marquette on Saturday.
One game after being beaten 62-39 at home by Rutgers and shooting just 21 percent from the field, the Panthers led for most of the game against the Golden Eagles before fading down the stretch and losing 62-57.
It was the sixth straight loss for Pittsburgh (11-7, 0-5), which remained the only winless team in the Big East.
"I liked how we played," Dixon said. "The second half, we had some challenges there given the foul situation and I think that really caught up to us. We did some really good things. I'm proud of how hard we played but we didn't get it done."
When asked if the losing streak had made him frustrated, Dixon said, "You can just look at the numbers and make that decision on your own."
"We're not used to this," Dixon said. "Call it what you will, obviously the losses are more than we ever had. Our kids are disappointed because they played hard, they played well, but we did not play well enough to win.
Ashton Gibbs led Pittsburgh with a career-high 29 points and Nasir Robinson added 10.
Gibbs said turnovers were the key to the game. Marquette used a three-quarters court press midway through the second half to fuel a 13-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 49-41 lead with 5:04 remaining.
"Turnovers let them back in the game," Gibbs said. "There's definitely a possibility of beating them. We were right there with Marquette. They're one of the best teams in the Big East. Now we can't turn the ball over, we have to rebound and knock down shots."
Gibbs said the key to his offensive success was his teammates finding him.
"They left me open. I took advantage of it," he said. "I credit my teammates. I took advantage of open opportunities."
Marquette (14-4, 3-2 Big East) won for the second straight time in conference play after losing consecutive games to No. 11 Georgetown and No. 1 Syracuse.
"I thought we played more minutes of us than we have been," coach Buzz Williams said. "But in the second half, we were really good in a lot of ways and that helped turn the game around."
The best way was with defense.
Marquette's 13-0 run featured consecutive steals and driving lay ups by Todd Mayo that got the crowd into the game and rattled Pittsburgh.
Williams said Mayo was the difference in the game.
"His defensive pressure was superb," Williams said. "I thought we were able to hang in there in a grind-it-out game. We're very thankful for this win."
Marquette's Jamil Wilson said he wasn't sure why the Golden Eagles continue to start games slow, but he had an interesting suggestion.
"Maybe everyone needs to wake up and splash some water on their face before the game," said Wilson, who had nine points and seven rebounds. "We need to get loose and into a rhythm and stop starting games so slow."
Darius Johnson-Odom scored 18 points and Jae Crowder added 15 for Marquette.
Pittsburgh hit just 20 of 46 shots in the game, including only 6 of 20 from 3-point range.
Gibbs hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 54.1 seconds remaining to trim Marquette's lead to 60-57.
With the shot clock running down, Crowder missed a 3-pointer from the corner, but Davante Gardner grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 18.1 seconds left. He hit both free throws to give Marquette a 62-57 lead.
The loss broke the Panthers' four-game winning streak against Marquette. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 8-7.