Justin Champagnie scored a game-high 21 points, and Pitt pulled away late to defeat Northwestern 72-59 in the Fort Myers Tip-Off championship game on Wednesday night in Florida.
Northwestern (3-3) stayed close throughout the game, and Pitt (6-2) held only a 45-40 lead with just over eight minutes left. The Panthers then scored five of the next seven points before Champagnie drilled a pair of 3-pointers that gave Pitt a 56-43 advantage.
The Wildcats rallied and cut the deficit to 60-54 late before Pitt scored the next nine points and sealed the victory.
Trey McGowens added 15 for the Panthers while Xavier Johnson scored 11 in the win. Eric Hamilton also give the Pitt a boost with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Panthers dominated the Wildcats on the boards, holding a 44-29 edge overall.
There was an interesting angle to this contest when it came to the head coaches. Pitt coach Jeff Capel and Northwestern coach Chris Collins played three seasons together at Duke from 1994-96.
In fact, they were the starting guards for Duke in the 1994 NCAA title game. They later served as assistants together under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke from 2011-2013.
Pat Spencer played a key role for Northwestern once again. The top men’s Division I lacrosse player in the nation — at Loyola University Maryland last spring — he has now moved to basketball as a graduate student.
Against the Panthers, he finished with a team-high 18 points and three assists. Boo Buie was the only other Northwestern player to finish in double figures, ending up with 16 points.
Pitt led for most of the first half, even pushing the margin to eight points a few times, but Northwestern rallied and cut the halftime deficit to 25-23.
The Panthers opened up the gap early in the second half, moving it to 32-24 on a Ryan Murphy 3-pointer. Northwestern slowly began to climb back once more and stayed close until the Champagnie-sparked run.
—Field Level Media