Pitt Men’s Basketball Goes On Late Scoring Drought, Upset By Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 74-70


Nov 16, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon gestures from the sidelines against the Samford Bulldogs during the second half at the Petersen Events Center. Pittsburgh won 63-56. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was non-televised and began at midnight EST over in Hawaii, Jamie Dixon’s Pitt Panthers experienced a rare nonconference true road game.

It did not fare well for Pitt.

The Panthers played sloppy defense and went on a late scoring drought, as Hawaii (4-1) upset Pitt 74-70 while most Pitt fans were sleeping.

At the 7:56 mark of the second half, a jumper by Michael Young gave Pitt a 60-58 lead.  At the 0:17 mark, Chris Jones knocked down a three pointer to cut the Hawaii lead to 71-67.  In between, only a Sheldon Jeter jumper and two Young free throws were all that Pitt could do.

That is not going to cut it.

One of my biggest fears going into the season was Pitt’s inability to score, since they do not have someone considered a serious offensive threat/scoring weapon. In any game, whether at home or on the road, scoring droughts will spell doom, and we witnessed that phenomenon last season.  Luckily, we had Lamar Patterson who at times carried Pitt on his back.

Who will do that this season? It remains to be determined.

For Pitt (2-1), sophomore guard Chris Jones scored a career-high 19 points and made 5 of 8 three point attempts.  Sophomore forward Michael Young scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, while junior guard James Robinson scored 12 points and 6 assists.

Sophomore guard/forward Jamel Artis was held scoreless for Pitt.

Worse than the scoring drought was Pitt’s inability to play tough, rugged defense.

For the Rainbow Warriors from Hawaii, four of five starters scored double digits (Thomas 12, Webster-Chan 11, Valdes 10, Nevels 11).  Guard Isaac Flemming came off the bench and scored a team high 15 points.

The Pitt defense was not good enough, as Hawaii shot 52.9% (27 for 51) on 12 assists and recorded 25 rebounds.  The Panthers shot 43.1% (25 for 58) on 16 assists and hauled in 32 rebounds.  Pitt only turned the ball over 8 times, and Hawaii only did so 7 times.

Pitt surged ahead to a 23-13 lead when freshmen Cameron Johnson buried a three pointer around the 12 minute mark of the first half.  That would be Pitt’s largest lead.

In the final 7 minutes of the first half, Pitt only scored three baskets, and Hawaii went into the locker room with a 40-36 advantage.

In the second half, a James Robinson layup gave Pitt a 58-55 lead around the 9-minute mark, but another scoring drought ensued, as Pitt only scored 6 more points until the final 17 seconds.

In desperation mode, Chris Jones nailed two three pointers to try to mount a comeback, but Hawaii made the majority of its free throws down the stretch to hang on for a 74-70 win.

Though disappointing, we need to remember Pitt is young, without senior Cameron Wright and junior Durand Johnson, and this game was a rare, uncharacteristic true road nonconference game. Pitt needs to have more of these games to be successful in March Madness, but this game essentially happened because it was supposed to be a tune-up to the EA Sports Maui Invitational that starts Monday.

Pitt will play host Chaminade on Monday, followed by either San Diego State or BYU depending on how the game unfolds.


Brett is a staff writer for City of Champions Sports.  Follow him on Twitter @BJoseph21.