Opening Run, Justin Champagnie’s Huge Game Lift Pitt over Gardner-Webb, 67-50
PITTSBURGH — Pitt scored the first 14 points of the game unanswered in one of the strongest opening sequences in program history and with some help from yet another strong game from sophomore wing Justin Champagnie, the Panthers coasted from there to a 67-50 victory over Gardner-Webb at Petersen Events Center on Saturday.
Pitt’s 14-0 opening run tied for the fourth-most unanswered consecutive points scored by a Pitt team to open a game, but it didn’t come from a lights-out string of shooting.
The Panthers were just so-so offensively in the early going, but it was the Pitt defense that completely locked down the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb missed its first 18 shots from the floor as Pitt opened up its 14-0 lead. The Panthers only hit six of their first 16 (37.5%)
Champagnie was unstoppable in all facets of the game. He scored 24 points on 10 of 20 shooting and grabbed 21 rebounds for his second consecutive 20-point, 20-rebound game, the first time in Pitt history a player had accomplished that feat.
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Champagnie also dished out five assists and added two blocks and he nearly singlehandedly led the Panthers to victory.
After the hot start, Gardner-Webb closed the gap to seven points just before the half, but Champagnie and company pulled ahead in the second half.
Xavier Johnson had 12 points, while Au’Diese Toney was held to a season-low nine. The Panthers shot 35.9% from the floor in the game and were an awful 1 of 18 from 3-point range.
With the win over the Bulldogs, Pitt has wrapped up its non-conference scheduled with a 4-1 record. The Panthers will begin ACC play with a trip to Miami on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The Panthers’ next home game will be Tuesday, Dec. 22 against Louisville.