Canisius pushes Pitt, falls 87-79

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Five Canisius players scored in double-figures, led by junior Majesty Brandon and his team-high 20 points, but it was not enough for the Golden Griffins as the team fell on the road to Pitt by a score of 87-79 at Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Monday.

The win moves Pitt to 10-3 on the year, while Canisius fell to 5-7 with its third-straight loss.

Brandon, who scored a career-high 30 points in a road loss at Siena last Monday, came off the bench and dropped 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, with four of those makes coming from 3-point land. He also added four rebounds, two assists and two steals in his 33 minutes of action. Fellow junior Jalanni White was good for 16 points and a career-high nine rebounds in the loss, while senior Malik Johnson added 14 points, seven assists, four boards and two steals. Freshman Armon Harried scored 12 points to go with six rebounds and fellow freshman Jacco Fritz chipped in 10 points, three rebounds and two assists, as the Griffs ended the day shooting 48.3 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from 3-point land and 72.2 percent from the free-throw line.

For Pitt, freshman Justin Champagnie scored a game-high 21 points, with 15 of those points coming on the power of five makes from 3-point land. He also added a team-high six rebounds and three assists. Champagnie was one of five Panthers to score in double-figures for the home team, as Pitt ended the day shooting 50.0 percent (26-for-52) from the field, 56.3 percent from 3-point land (9-for-16) and 78.8 percent from the free-throw line.

The Griffs trailed by as many as 13 points midway through the first half before making a run and cutting the Panthers’ lead to just six at 42-36 at intermission. Out of the halftime break, Canisius scored four quick points to trim Pitt’s lead to 42-40 with 19:00 left in the game, forcing the Panthers to take a timeout. Out of that timeout, Pitt answered Canisius’ charge by scoring eight of the game’s next 11 points to push its lead back to seven at 50-43 with 15:53 remaining.

Pitt’s lead remained between seven and 12 points for the next six-plus minutes of game action before the Blue and Gold mounted one more charge at the home team. Trailing by 10 at 65-55 with 9:54 left to play, Canisius used a 9-2 run over the next 2:25 to make the score 67-66 in favor of Pitt. In that run, Canisius got a pair of treys from Brandon, and 3-ball from Harried and a lay-up by Fritz. However, that would be as close as Canisius would get in the game, as Pitt used a quick 6-2 scoring spurt to push its cushion back to five at 73-68 with 6:34 showing on the clock. A pair of free-throws by White made the score 73-70 with 6:26 left before the Panthers scored the game’s next five points to extend their lead to eight at 78-70.

Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“I thought it was a hard-fought game. We came in with the concern that they were a great offensive rebounding team. They are very active in their zone and pressure really well. Those things were very apparent today, but I thought we fought back on those things. Unfortunately, we did not overcome enough of those challenges to change the outcome. Pitt is a very young team but they are a very well coached group.”

“I think against their zone, we were able to move the ball and get it into some areas that allowed us to find open people. Many times, we look at the person who got the assist, but I think today it was more of an issue of who got the ball to the person who ended up being credited with the assist. Pitt was very active in the zone, which made it hard for us to move the ball at time. We struggled against the zone early on, but I thought we got a little bit better as the game moved on.”

Game Notes
• Monday was the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools, and the first since Dec. 20, 1978. The series is now tied at 2-2.
• Canisius’ 79 points stand as the most points given up by Pitt this season. The Panthers started allowing just 58.1 points per contest this season, which ranks 10th in the nation.

  • As a team, Canisius had eight steals on the day, giving the team five-or-more steals in a game in all 12 contests to date this season.
  • Canisius out-rebounded Pitt by a 34-31 clip, with 17 of the team’s 34 rebounds coming off the offensive glass.
    • Brandon is averaging 21.3 points per game in the team’s last three contests, where he’s connected on 13 makes from behind the 3-point arc.
  • White’s nine rebounds topped his previous career high of eight boards, set Jan. 5, 2019 at Siena. His six offensive rebounds on the day are a new career-high as well.
  • Johnson has now scored in double-figures in nine games this season and in 40 games in his career.
    • Johnson’s game-high seven assists gives him five-or-more assists in seven games this season. In the team’s last five outings, the Richmond, Va., native is averaging 7.2 assists per contest.
  • Junior Scott Hitchon matched a season-high with two blocked shots.

Up Next
Canisius will return to action on Friday, Jan. 3, when the team plays host to Manhattan at the Koessler Athletic Center, with tip-off set for 7 p.m. That game, which will be broadcast live on ESPN+, will be the team’s first home game in nearly three weeks. The radio call will be available through WECK Buffalo Radio (1230-AM, 100.5-FM and 102.9-FM) and

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