MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) – Trey McGowens scored 25 points and Terrell Brown added eight points, nine rebounds and a career-high five blocks as Pittsburgh spoiled the unveiling of Robert Morris’ UPMC Events Center in a 71-57 win on Tuesday night.
Three days after getting upset at home by Nicholls State, the Panthers (2-1) responded by snapping a 24-game road losing streak that stretched back nearly three years.
Pitt broke it open with a 22-10 surge to open the second half to improve to 31-0 all-time against the Colonials. The first 30 meetings were at Pitt’s campus. The Panthers, however, agreed to make the 20-mile trip west to help Robert Morris (0-3) debut the $45 million, 4,000-seat UMPC Events Center. The building, which officially opened in May, is a testament to just how rapidly the school of just over 5,000 undergraduate students is growing.
Playing in front of a packed house that included Pittsburgh Steelers star JuJu Smith-Schuster and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mel Blount, the Panthers relied heavily on McGowens and Brown to give Pitt its first road victory since beating Boston College on Feb. 8, 2017.
Josh Williams led Robert Morris with 12 points, Jalen Hawkins added 11 off the bench and Yannis Mendy had 10 points and six rebounds but the undersized Colonials couldn’t contend with the 6-foot-10 Brown or keep McGowens from creating havoc in the lane.
The Panthers outrebounded Robert Morris 39-27, dominated Robert Morris in second-chance points (14-2) and kept the Colonials off the free throw line. Robert Morris didn’t even attempt a free throw in the second half and finished with just six for the game.
McGowens and the rest of the Panthers had no such problems. Pitt made 22 of 27 at the line and never let Robert Morris get within single digits over the final 10 minutes.
Pitt: The Panthers need to find some sort of identity on offense if they’re going to take another step forward in coach Jeff Capel’s second season. Through three games, Pitt has relied heavily on McGowens and Xavier Johnson getting to the basket. When they’re either finishing at the rim or getting fouled, the Panthers are competitive. When they’re not – as they weren’t against Nicholls State – Pitt is in trouble.
Robert Morris: The Colonials will have a chance to make some noise in the Northeast Conference. Picked to finish fifth in the NEC in the preseason, Robert Morris should be plenty battle-tested thanks to a nonconference schedule that includes games against Marquette and UNLV before NEC play begins.
Pitt: Faces longtime rival West Virginia for the 129th time on Friday when the Mountaineers visit the Petersen Events Center.
Robert Morris: Plays Howard on Friday night in Toledo, Ohio as part of the Men Against Breast Cancer Invitational.
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)