Freshman guard Justin Champagnie poured in a season-high 31 points as Pittsburgh overcame some rough patches to defeat Wake Forest 81-72 in the opening game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Tuesday in Greensboro, N.C.
No. 13 seed Pittsburgh (16-16) ended a seven-game losing streak and advanced to meet fifth-seeded North Carolina State in Wednesday afternoon’s second-round game.
Trey McGowens scored 14 points, while Xavier Johnson, Au’Diese Toney and Abdoul Karim Coulibaly each provided 10 points for the Panthers, who avenged a January home loss. Johnson also supplied eight assists.
Wake Forest (13-18) completed the season with three straight losses and this is bound to fuel speculation about the future of coach Danny Manning, who has been in charge for six seasons with only one winning record. The Demon Deacons had a two-win improvement from a year ago.
Olivier Sarr scored 20 points, Isaiah Mucius knocked in 19 points before fouling out in the final minute and Brandon Childress tallied 17 points for the 12th-seeded Demon Deacons.
Childress, a senior guard, played his final game in the same Greensboro Coliseum where his father, Randolph Childress, starred 25 years ago in leading Wake Forest to the ACC tournament championship.
Pittsburgh shot 52.3 percent from the field. The Panthers didn’t attempt a free throw until the second half, ending up 7-for-10 from the line.
Champagnie’s 3-pointer stretched Pittsburgh’s lead to 73-68. That was part of the Panthers’ 17-6 closing stretch across the final 6 1/2 minutes.
Champagnie finished 13-for-19 from the field, sinking three 3-pointers.
Mucius, a sophomore forward, had 15 points in the first 10 minutes, already matching his career high with three 3-pointers.
Wake Forest led by eight in the first half, but two turnovers leading to Pittsburgh layups in transition closed the gap to 37-36 with 2:15 remaining before halftime.
Wake Forest ended up with 18 turnovers compared to Pittsburgh’s eight.
Pittsburgh also defeated Wake Forest in the 2014 tournament in Greensboro.
—Field Level Media