PITTSBURGH (AP)Freshmen can be inconsistent.
That’s one of the universal truths of college basketball, and it was on display on Friday, as Pittsburgh freshman Justin Champagnie broke out of a three-game slump for 14 points to lead the Panthers to a 79-53 rout of Binghamton.
Champagnie recorded his second double-double while shooting 6 of 13 from the floor. In his previous three games, he shot 17% from the floor and had just nine points. In two of those games, he didn’t make a field goal.
”You keep missing and you get in your head,” Champagnie said. ”You lose your confidence, but you just have to remember that you have to keep going.”
Despite his cold streak, Champagnie was the lynchpin in the middle of the Panthers’ game plan to attack Binghamton’s zone.
”He’s good against the zone,” head coach Jeff Capel said. ”Because he can get in the middle and the short corner and make some plays from there.”
The Panthers started the game 0 for 5 from the floor, but responded to shoot 44% on the night and did not trail after the first six minutes.
With Champagnie working inside, Trey McGowens had 13 points and hit 2 of 5 from 3-point range. Ryan Murphy had 11 points and was 3 of 7 from beyond the arc.
For Binghamton, sophomore guard Sam Sessoms led with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting. He was 5 of 11 from 3-point range. The rest of his team was 3 for 19.
Binghamton: The Bearcats suffered the other end of the first-year ebbs and flows. Dempsey started three freshmen, all of which played at least 20 minutes, but combined for just 16 points.
”We’re a very young team,” Dempsey said. ”It’s somewhat natural at times for young teams to struggle on the road . but it’s something where we need to continue to grow.”
Dempsey said he’s seen growth from his young team throughout the first half of the schedule. The Bearcats lost to Michigan State by 53 points on Nov. 10.
Pitt: The Panthers entered the game tied for 342nd in the country in 3-point shooting percentage at 25.7%. Xavier Johnson, McGowens and Murphy represent Pitt’s best chance at reversing that trend, and they each had above-average shooting nights from long range for the first time this season.
”It just opens up for everybody else,” said Au’Diese Toney. ”They know that they can shoot the ball well from the arc, so when they close it out, there’s penetration or it’s going to be wide open in the middle.”
Binghamton: Will finish its nonconference schedule with a home game against Division III Hartwick College on Dec. 29. The Bearcats are 4-1 at home this season.
Pitt: Wraps four-game homestead against Canisius on Dec. 30 to finish nonconference play. Pitt is 1-2 all-time against Canisius, but the teams have not played since 1978.