Pitt Closes Non-Conference Play with 87-79 Win Over Canisius

PITTSBURGH – Justin Champagnie scored 21 points to lead five double-figure scorers as Pitt closed out non-conference play with an 87-79 win over Canisius Monday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers backcourt trio of Ryan Murphy (16), Xavier Johnson (16) and Trey McGowens (14) combined for 46 points in the win.

University of Pittsburgh Head Mens’ Basketball Coach Jeff Capel (Photo Credit: Vince Butts -UMT Sports )

“Thank goodness we were able to play some offense today.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel. “I think that Canisius team is better than their record, they’ve had some injuries and they’re getting back whole. I think they’ve been playing pretty well.”

Champagnie got the game started with a personal 8-0 run with the pair of three-point field goals and a steal and layup in the opening 1:05 of play. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native also grabbed six rebounds to pace the Panthers.

“I thought we did some really good things offensively,” said Capel. “Obviously, we shot the ball really well and we needed it this afternoon. I felt like the past few games, we’ve gotten better offensively. What I’ve seen in practice is that we’re getting better, and it was great to see that, but that can’t be at the expense of our defense. It has to be what we hang our hat on. We have to get back to work and get back to being who we’ve been up to this point, which is a good defensive team.”

Champagnie was 5-of-6 from three-point range, part of a two-pronged Pitt barrage from long range with Murphy, who went 4-of-7 from deep. The Panthers matched a season high with nine three-point field goals and shot a season-best 56.3% from beyond the arc.

“Justin Champagnie is very versatile, he can guard a lot of positions,” said Au’Diese Toney. “He can also rebound well and shoot the ball. He can do a lot of things that we need, and Ryan Murphy, as well. He can open up the floor a lot for Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson and a lot of players because he can shoot the ball well from the outside.”

Johnson converted consecutive three-point plays late in the second half to help hold off a charge by the Golden Griffins. He added a game-high eight assists and matched a career best with four steals.Au”Diese Toney went 3-of-4 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line to contribute 13 points.

Pitt made a season-high 26 free throws, going 26-of-33 (.788) from the charity stripe in the contest.

Canisius stayed in the game by dominating on the offensive glass. The Golden Griffins had 17 offensive rebounds, compared to six for Pitt and turned that into 18 second-chance points.

Majesty Brandon scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting while Jalanni White scored 14 points and cleaned up nine rebounds for Canisius (5-7). Both players came off the bench to lead the Golden Griffins, while point guard Malik Johnson added 14 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

“We have to continue to work on our rebounding. Not just blocking out but going to get the ball.” Said Capel “But it was a good way to close out 2019 and to close out this decade for us to be sitting 10-3 heading into the meat of conference play. I appreciate that. I’m grateful for that and look forward to ACC play.”

 

BIG PICTURE

Canisius: Finished 5-6 in non-conference play, clinching the Griffins’ third consecutive losing record out of league action.

Pitt: At 10-3, the Panthers finished the first half of their schedule with exactly the same record that they did last season. They then finished the regular season by dropping 15 of their final 18 games. But this year’s early season schedule seems to have given the Panthers a tougher test, with games against Top 25 foes Florida State, Louisville and West Virginia and other major conference opponents in Northwestern, Kansas State and Rutgers.

UP NEXT

Canisius: Returns home after going 0-3 on a season-long, three-game road trip to face Manhattan on Friday. Canisius is 3-0 at home this season.

Pitt: Will host Wake Forest on Saturday. The Panthers are 1-1 in ACC play so far this season and have lost three straight to the Demon Deacons.

Sources: www.PittsburghPanthers.com

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