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Colonial Sports Network

Photo credit: Cam Wickline
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McGowens spoils inaugural men’s basketball game at UPMC Events Center

MOON TOWNSHIP — Just like the Robert Morris women’s team did for Pitt back in 2012, the University of Pittsburgh’s men’s basketball team (2-1, 1-0 ACC) traveled to Robert Morris to play the first-ever basketball game at the Colonials’ (0-3) new arena.

“I think that, in general,” said Robert Morris president Chris Howard, Ph.D. on the new arena before the game. “The facility itself will attract great student-athletes, great students, great faculty and staff and be a great asset to our community, no matter what happens tonight.”

The Panthers won the game 71-57, due mostly to a 25-point performance from Trey McGowens (10.0 ppg) and a five-block night by Terrell Brown (10.5 ppg). Their performances catapulted them in the second half, where the Panthers outscored the Colonials 44-30.

The first official basket at the UPMC Events Center was a three-pointer by Ryan Murphy (20.5 ppg). This started a 7-0 run that ended at the first media timeout when Murphy fouled Dante Treacy (3.0 ppg) at the three-point line. Treacy made all three of his free throws and became the first Colonial to score in the new arena.

That started off a huge run that gave RMU a 14-7 lead at the second media timeout. The run was an 18-point run that ended at the 10:23 mark when Terrell Brown hit a pair of free-throws to make the score 18-9.

“I think we were just playing the right way,” said Josh Williams. “I think we played with great energy throughout the whole game, but I think we were playing the right way during that time.”

The two teams battled back-and-forth and they entered halftime with the score tied at 27. McGowens led the game in scoring with 10 points, while Charles Bain (4.5 ppg) led the Colonials with six points. Robert Morris was out-rebounded 19-15 in the half and only shot 32.1% in the half.

“We got off to a very good start,” said Panthers’ head coach Jeff Capel. “Then from the under-16 timeout to the under-12 timeout we were really bad. During that stretch we had four straight turnovers and just panicked a bit. But I thought we got ourselves back into the game over the last 11 and a half minutes.”

Pitt came out strong in the second half, jumping out to a quick 22-10 run to take a 49-37 lead. This was highlighted by 10 points by McGowens, which gave him 20 in the game at that point. He finished the night with 25 on 8-13 shooting, and was 8-10 at the free-throw line.

The Panthers never lost that lead and won the game by a score of 71-57. In addition to McGowens, Au’diese Toney (2.0 ppg), Murphy (20.0 ppg) and Justin Champagnie (6.5 ppg) all finished with double-digit scoring totals as Toney finished with 11-points while Murphy and Champagnie each finished with 10.

“We have to be able to execute,” said Jon Williams. “And win games. Because that’s what’s going to bring people out. Nobody wants to come here and see you lose games, so we have to take that into consideration.”

The other stand-out player for the Panthers was Brown, who finished the night with nine rebounds and five solo blocks to lead the game in both categories. In fact, Brown had more solo blocks than the entire Robert Morris team who finished with three. McGowens also had a strong game on the boards as he snagged eight rebounds.

The Colonials were led in scoring by Josh Williams (17.0 ppg) who finished the night with 12 points, but the prolific scorer only shot 5-13 in the game. Williams was in a boot after the game due to a sprained right ankle he suffered the day prior, but he said that did not limit him in the game, other than possibly affecting his jump shot.

Jalen Hawkins (8.0 ppg) and Yannis Mendy (11.0 ppg) were the other players to score double-digits for Robert Morris, as they finished with 11 and 10 points respectively. AJ Braham (6.5 ppg) led the Colonials in rebounds with six on the night.

“I thought the environment was really cool,” said Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole. “I thought our students came out and supported the way we’d love them to support all the time. This could become a great home court for us if we can get the campus and community support I think these guys deserve. To be connected as a University community, it’s something we need to build upon.”

The Colonials will now travel to Toledo, Ohio, to participate in the 2019 MABC Invitational presented by FieldTurf this Friday and Saturday, with both games scheduled at 2:00 p.m. They will face Howard University (0-3) on Friday before facing Toledo (1-1).

As for Pittsburgh, they will host West Virginia University (1-0) on Friday at 7:00 p.m. in the 187th edition of the men’s basketball version of the backyard brawl.

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