PITTSBURGH — Pitt led all 40 minutes in their 66-41 win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Thursday at Petersen Events Center. The Golden Lions came into the Pete winless in their first four games of the season and stayed that way.
Pitt jumped out to a 16-2 lead in the first ten minutes of the game but could never really escalate the lead for the remainder of the first half.
The Golden Lions showed a 2-3 zone for the entirety of the game, and the Panthers found it challenging to get in a significant offensive rhythm. Xavier Johnson connected on 3-of-4 attempts from the 3-point line in the first half against the zone. The rest of the Panthers were 0-8.
Pitt held the Golden Lions to 23 percent from the field in the first half and led 31-18.
Pitt turned the ball over three times in the first 1:44 of the second half, and the Golden Lions made three 3-pointers to cut the Panther lead to just nine points. Pitt started to dissect the zone and went on a 12-2 run over 5:28 midway through the second half. The Panthers’ largest lead of the game was 21 points.
Eric Hamilton showed his presence down low, adding 12 points and eight rebounds. Pitt scored 36 points in the paint and coughed up only six turnovers.
Pitt was led in the scoring category by freshman Justin Champagnie with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Johnson finished with 13 points, six assists, and zero turnovers.
Markedric Bell led Arkansas Pine Bluff with 21 points and six rebounds.
Pitt will travel to Fort Myers, Fla. for the championship rounds of the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, playing Kansas State in the semifinals Monday, Nov. 25, and either Northwestern or Bradley Wednesday, Nov. 27.