PITTSBURGH — Pitt’s 20-year streak of home opener victories was snapped on Monday, as the Panthers dropped an 83-78 overtime decision to the Montana Grizzlies in the first game at Petersen Events Center for the 2017-18 season.
Pitt had the ball with an opportunity to play for the game’s last shot with 28 seconds remaining in overtime while trailing by a point, but Ryan Luther got wide-open off an inbounds play and attempted a short jumper. Luther missed and fouled out of the game when he grabbed the Montana rebounder.
After Montana went 1 for 2 at the other end, Parker Stewart took a Shamiel Stevenson pass and attempted a corner 3-pointer that fell short, ending any realistic chance at a Pitt victory.
It was the second straight year Pitt’s opener went into overtime after a double-OT win against Eastern Michigan last year. This time, the Panthers came back to tie the game late in regulation.
After a Panthers miss and several put-back attempts, the Grizzlies grabbed a rebound and looked to slow the pace with about 40 seconds to play. But Montana slowed it down too far and was whistled for a 10-second backcourt violation.
On the ensuing possession, Luther found Stevenson for a backdoor layup to tie the game at 73-73. Stevenson, a true freshman making his first start, led the Panthers in points with 19 and also had six rebounds.
Luther also had his best effort of the young season. After scoring 14 in Friday’s season-opening loss to Navy, he finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.
Montana’s last regulation possession resulted in a last-second miss by guard Michael Oguine. Oguine didn’t miss much on the day, as he tormented the Panthers’ defense all night, racking up 29 points in 44 minutes.
Pitt will host UC Santa Barbara in another preliminary game for the Legends Classic on Wednesday before heading to New York for the championship rounds Monday and Tuesday.
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