PITTSBURGH — Pitt’s 87-79 win over Canisius on Monday afternoon was their eighth victory in their last nine games. The Panthers finished up their non-conference schedule with a 9-2 record (10-3 overall).
Things got rolling quickly for Pitt with a steady contribution from freshman Justin Champagnie, who went 2-of-2 from 3-point range and added a breakaway dunk to give the Panthers an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Champagnie finished with a career-high 21 points while knocking in five 3-pointers.
Pitt as a team shot 9-of-16 (56%) from the 3-point line and 50% from the field.
The Golden Griffins hung with the Panthers for much of the first 20-minutes, in large part because of their 12 offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points. Canisius out-rebounded Pitt 21-14 at the break but trailed 42-36 on the scoreboard.
Out of the halftime break, Canisius scored four-straight, and the Panthers held on to just a two-point lead, which made head coach Jeff Capel call an early second-half timeout. The Panthers responded with five-straight points and forced four Golden Griffins turnovers in just two minutes of play. Pitt’s pushed their lead to as many as 11 points in the second half.
Canisius used an 8-0 run over just 1:30 of play to push back and have a deficit of only one point at 67-66.
Pitt sophomore Xavier Johnson responded with two straight buckets of his own — in which he got fouled on — and capitalized from the charity stripe on both attempts for six quick points.
Aside from the hot shooting from Champagnie, Pitt was led by Ryan Murphy with 16 points (4-of-7 from three), Trey McGowens with 14, and Johnson dropping in 16 points, eight assists, and four steals.
Freshman wing Gerald Drumgoole was back in the lineup for the Panthers after missing Pitt’s last eight games with an ankle injury. Drumgoole played four minutes and went 1-of-2 from the field while adding four points and two rebounds.
Before this game, Pitt had only allowed two teams (Nicholls St. and West Virginia) to reach 65 or more points in their first 12 games of the season.
The Golden Griffins were led by junior Majesty Brandon, who finished with 20 points and four rebounds.
Pitt will host ACC foe Wake Forest (7-5, 0-2 ACC) on Saturday, Jan. 4, at noon, which will be their third conference matchup (1-1) of the season.