World News – USA – Pitt rallies to defeat Northwestern, 71-70


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Jeff Capel had no intention of taking time off, stopping his team’s momentum and creating a game on a whiteboard that his players could run well anyway.

What happened next was perhaps more encouraging than anything that happened to Pitt in Capel’s three seasons as a coach.

Pitt-Junior Justin Champagnie, who had a point to the northwest with 16 seconds to go on Wednesday evening, got his 20th. Rebound after the second of two missed free throws by Northwest Guard Boo Buie. He quickly found Johnson, who in turn pushed a pass back to Champagnie and was now hanging around the basket.

Champagnies Dunk gave him 20 points and the first 20/20 game for Pitt in 11 years. More importantly, the panthers were sent home from Evanston, Illinois. , Wednesday night with a 71-70 win over Northwestern in the ACC Big Ten Challenge.

« He just said (before Buie missed it) » Rebound, take it to X and let him do his thing, « said Champagnie. “He made a good pass, a good finish. ”

Capel added, “We wanted to put the ball in (Johnson’s) hands and he made such a great, selfless game and that speaks for his maturity. ”

All of a sudden, Pitt (3: 1) after the disappointing loss to St. . Francis (Pa. ) in the opener.

« We all know what it is like to lose, » said Champagnie. « We don’t want to feel that way anymore. ”

For most of the game, it felt like Pitt was on the way to yet another defeat.

Champagnie’s basket, five seconds ahead, was Pitt’s only lead. Somehow, the Panthers won the game after missing 22 of their first 25 shots. They rallied briefly, but found themselves at the wrong end of a 66-58 result in 3 minutes and 43 seconds.

• Champagnie dominates the glass, helping Pitt rebound 54:34 and recording the first 20/20 of one of Capel’s players since Blake Griffin did so in Oklahoma about a decade ago.

Capel was particularly pleased with Pitt’s defense, which kept Northwestern on 70 points and a 36. 8 percent shot after the Wildcats (2-1) scored 203 points in their first two games.

« We just couldn’t get a shot (at the beginning of the game), » said Capel. “But the only thing we did was that we really defended at a high level.

« We came in at halftime (33-22) and told our boys to just relax. You could see that the guys put so much on their plate and (were) frustrated and had their frustration on our face about our offense.

“They missed the fact that we defended at such a high level. We told them the offense was coming, but keep defending at a high level. ”

William Jeffress, who six months before he turns 18. Birthday is, played 33 minutes, scored seven points with four rebounds and added two assists. After Pitt fell eight minutes late, Jeffress sparked the decisive rally by feeding freshman John Hugley a dunk that turned into a 3-point game when fouled.

When Johnson went in the middle of the second half with four fouls for five minutes, newcomer Femi Odukale took the offensive. He made a backcourt 28 seconds ahead which resulted in a basket from Champagnie and reduced Northwestern’s lead to 70-69.

Pitt shot 53. 1 percent in the second half, but Capel said defense made all the difference.

« I think it’s a wish. I think it’s tenacity. I think it has an overview of what you’re trying to do, « he said. « I think it’s togetherness. I think that’s all of these things.

« Our boys fought and fought in a way that makes all of us, the coaching staff, really, really proud. ”

NOTES: Champagnie is the first Division I player to be 20/20 this season and he joins DeJuan Blair (2009) as the only Pitt player to reach that mark in the past 25 years. At 6-foot-6, he’s also the shortest ACC player to record one in the past quarter century. … The playing time for Pitt’s game on Saturday against Gardner-Webb at the Petersen Events Center has been changed to 4pm. m. It is broadcast by AT&T SportsNet.

Jerry DiPaola is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Jerry by email at jdipaola @ triblive. com or via twitter .

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Pittsburgh Panthers Men’s Basketball, Justin Champagnie, Northwestern Wildcats Men’s Basketball, University of Pittsburgh, Atlantic Coast Conference, Northwestern University, Big Ten Conference

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