PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan are the only returning seniors on Pittsburgh’s rebuilding team.
Saturday, it was the seniors leading the way as Luther and Milligan combined for 34 points in the Panthers’ 80-68 victory over Lehigh.
Luther, a 6-foot-9 forward, scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his third double-double in six games.
Milligan ran the point for the Panthers (2-4) and had three assists to go along with his 14 points. The Panthers finished with 21 assists compared with 11 turnovers, for their best ratio this season.
“I thought our two seniors were really good today, both of them on both ends,” Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings said.
With Milligan running the offense, the Panthers were 10 of 27 (37 percent) from beyond the arc and shot 51 percent from the floor, both season highs.
“We’ve been really emphasizing execution and making hard cuts,” Milligan said. “Just doing what we do on offense, but doing it at full speed. We’ve got a bunch of young guys. Executing is probably something that’s a little bit new.”
Kyle Leufroy and freshman center James Karnik scored 14 apiece and Lehigh (3-3) was held below its season scoring average, despite shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
Lehigh: Lehigh has developed a bit of a reputation as a giant killer by going 3-6 against major conference opponents over the last three seasons. But they’re running out of time to make such an impact this year. After losing to then-No. 10 USC on Nov. 22 and Pitt, Lehigh has just one more power conference opponent on the slate, a Dec. 2 visit to Virginia.
“It’s almost like a litmus test for us to see where we’re at and where we could improve,” Reed said. “Generally speaking, when you make mistakes against strong teams from power conferences, they can capitalize and make you pay. It gives us a greater sense of awareness and reality of where we stand.”
Pittsburgh: The Panthers continue their rebuild under second-year head coach Kevin Stallings and may have turned something of a corner in the early going. After a 1-4 start in which the only win was a close one against UC Santa Barbara, the Panthers finally put up a big margin of victory against Lehigh.
Parker Stewart came off the bench to hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range for all of his 12 points. The Pitt freshman had been 3 of 17 from beyond the arc in his first five career games.
“At times like that, when you don’t hit shots, sometimes, it’s in your head,” Stewart said. “I try not to think about it too much and try to keep getting up extra shots.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Pitt came into the game shooting 68.8 percent from the free-throw line, but made 18 of 21 on the afternoon and went 12 for 13 in the second half to prevent any chance at a Lehigh comeback.
Lehigh will continue a four-game road swing with a visit to Princeton on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Mountain Hawks beat the Tigers, 76-67 in Bethlehem, Pa., last year.
The Panthers will host High Point on Tuesday night for their second in a stretch of eight straight games in Pittsburgh to close 2017. It will tip off at 7 p.m.
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)