Pitt’s Comeback Effort Comes up Short, Panthers Fall to Monmouth 56-52

PITTSBURGH — On Sunday night, Monmouth came into the Petersen Events Center and handed Pitt its seventh loss of the season, taking down the Panthers by a score of 56-52.

After an embarrassing first half of play, Pitt, led by Jamarius Burton, came all the way back to bring the deficit within three with just under 30 seconds remaining in the game.

However, with such little time left, the Panthers had to foul four straight times to force Monmouth into the bonus, which eventually took the clock all the way down to 9.6 seconds. Then, Monmouth’s George Papas, the team’s leading scorer, sank the Panthers with one converted free throw, bringing the lead to four and clinching the win.

Papas and the Hawks took advantage of a lousy start from the Panthers right away, leading by as much as 17 in the first frame in a dominant first half performance.

The Panthers came out of the gates as cold as can be, making just 2 of their first 18 field goals, and finishing the half with eight turnovers and only six made shots.

After switching into a zone defense in the second half, the Panthers held Monmouth to to just 1-for-14 shooting beyond the arch. That adjustment proved to be a key to their comeback, but the Panthers just could not pull it all together and gain a lead late.

Burton led the comeback with a strong 13-point second half performance. He finished with a season-high 15 on 7-for-12 shooting.

Pitt’s leading scorer on the year, John Hugley, finished with 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Hugley also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds in the loss.

Guard Femi Odukale came off the bench for the second-straight game, as walk-on Onye Ezeakudo started once again. Odukale finished with 14 points, while Ezeakudo did not score.

In addition to Papas, Monmouth (8-2) also received contributions from Shavar Reynolds and Marcus McClary, who finished with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

After a 1-1 week, Pitt will now have five days off prior to its next game against St. John’s.

The Johnnies, who took down Colgate 82-64 on Sunday night, come into the matchup with an 8-2 record. Julian Champagnie, the brother of former Pitt star Justin Champagnie, leads the Red Storm in scoring, averaging 20.3 points per game.

That game, as part of the Gotham Classic, will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, with tip-off scheduled for noon. It will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and aired live on 93.7 The Fan.

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