PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh's Chris Taft made Robert Morris forward Chaz McCrommon eat his words.
Taft scored 13 of his 21 points in the first half as 15th-ranked Pittsburgh shook off a slow start to rout the crosstown Colonials, 83-59, for their 42nd straight home win against non-conference opponents.
During a summer pickup game at the Peterson Events Center, McCrommon predicted Robert Morris would beat the Panthers by 30 points.
"Our win was all due to Chaz McCrommon's words," Taft said. "Chaz came out and disrespected this Pittsburgh team, and I could not let that happen."
Robert Morris opened a 30-26 lead on Maurice Carter's 3-pointer with 6:20 left in the first half before the Panthers (2-0) woke up and reeled off the next 16 points to open a 42-30 lead at the intermission. Taft's layup ignited the spurt.
Pittsburgh improved to 60-0 against the Northeast Conference, including 24-0 against Robert Morris.
"I told myself I was going to be real aggressive, post up real hard and just look for the ball," said Taft, who also grabbed nine rebounds. "I knew they would get me the ball if I posted up."
"He's just really, really big and athletic," Robert Morris coach Mark Schmidt said of Taft. "He's strong physically and superior to what we have."
Mark Anderson scored 18 points and Carter added 17 for Robert Morris, which was coming off Friday's 88-55 loss to Virginia.
"We knew they (Robert Morris) were going to double in the post, but we adjusted to that," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "I thought our passing led to good shots."
Carl Krauser added 18 points for the Panthers, who forced 21 turnovers and outrebounded the Colonials, 37-22. Pittsburgh made just shot 16-of-26 from the foul line, but Robert Morris attempted only five free throws.
"I was very proud of the effort we gave during the first 15 minutes," Schmidt said. "We shot the ball well. We had some lulls. I think we turned the ball over too much. We kept it close in the beginning and that was because we held on to the ball."
The Colonials tried to answer Pittsburgh's run at the end of the first half by starting the second half with an 8-2 spurt. They closed to 44-40 on Mark Anderson's jumper with 16:40 remaining.
The Panthers steadily pulled away, opening a 58-46 lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Krauser and Antonio Graves. Pittsburgh led by as many as 27 points in the final two minutes.