Freshman Trey McGowens scored 17 points to propel host Pitt in the second half as the young Panthers pulled away for a 69-53 triumph over Youngstown State in the season opener for both teams.
After a disastrous campaign last season in which they went winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Panthers gave new coach Jeff Capel a victory in his debut thanks to a second-half surge in which they outscored the Penguins 42-29 and shot 62.5 percent from the floor (15 for 24).
Four Pitt starters scored in double figures, with Au’Diese Toney adding 12 points and nine rebounds and Xavier Johnson tallying 16 points and six assists. Malik Ellison registered 13 points and six rebounds.
Youngstown St. hung around in the first half, closing to 27-24 at the half on a 3-pointer by Darius Quisenberry. Quisenberry connected again from distance at the 19:43 mark of the second half to draw the teams even at 27-27, but the Penguins never got anything going after the break, shooting just 31 percent in the second half (10 for 32) to spoil any chance of a road triumph.
Pitt took advantage, going on an 18-2 run to overcome some early shooting woes and remained in control for the rest of the game. McGowens’ layup with 2:46 remaining gave Pitt its largest lead at 68-44. The Panthers also dominated the paint, outscoring the Penguins 48-18, as their size led to some easy interior baskets. Pitt also capitalized on a quickness advantage, building a huge 27-3 edge in fast-break points.
Kendale Hampton led Youngstown St. with 15 points and Naz Bohannon grabbed 10 rebounds for the Penguins, who tied the Panthers with 44 total rebounds.
—Field Level Media