Xavier Johnson scored 13 second-half points to lead Pittsburgh through a slow first half and over Monmouth, 63-50, on Monday night.
Pitt (3-2) was stifled early by the visiting Hawks and their own poor shooting in the opening 20 minutes of play. The Panthers made just one of their first nine field goals and three of their first 17.
During the opening 10 minutes, head coach Jeff Capel momentarily benched Johnson, Pitt’s sophomore starting point guard, for walk-on Onyebuchi Ezeakudo. If Capel was looking for a quick spark, he didn’t get it, as only a 10-for-10 mark at the charity stripe prevented the Panthers from trailing going into the break.
But in the second half, Johnson came alive.
He scored nine points in the first six minutes of the second period and kept on leading the Panthers, finishing with 15 points and nine of Pitt’s 13 assists.
Monmouth (1-4) found outside success from guard Ray Salnave, who had 10 points and was 2 for 5 from 3-point range, and inside with forward Mustapha Traore, who was 5 of 10 from the floor for 12 points.
Under Capel, Pitt has often relied on an ability to get to the free-throw line. Pitt attempted 26 free throws to Monmouth’s eight. But that ability has only showed itself in fits and spurts as the Panthers stumbled to a 2-2 record in their first four games of the season.
West Virginia 69, Northern Colorado 61: Jermaine Haley had 18 points and 12 rebounds and West Virginia needed a late scoring burst to outlast Northern Colorado, 69-61.
Derek Culver added 13 points for the Mountaineers (3-0).
Bodie Hume scored 18 points for the Bears (2-3) and Kai Edwards added 12 points.
Northern Colorado came from 17 points down and used an 12-0 run to tie the score at 54-54 on two free throws by Edwards with 6:18 remaining. But the Bears never retook the lead.
Culver then scored six points and Haley four during a subsequent 10-0 run as West Virginia pulled away.
The Mountaineers used a smaller lineup against the Bears and still outrebounded them 42-24. Culver didn’t play until the second half.
California 86, Davis & Elkins 63: Luke House led four California players in double figures with 21 points, powering the Vulcans to an easy 86-63 victory over host Davis & Elkins.
Cal (2-2) forged a 15-point halftime lead and then pulled away by shooting 57 percent in the second half.
Brent Pegram followed in the scoring column with 18 points Zyan Collins had 16 and Ajike Babatunde 13. House and Collins each grabbed nine rebounds. The Vulcans made 11 three-point field goals.
Davis & Elkins (2-3) made 51 percent of its shots but the Senators committed 16 turnovers, had only three offensive rebounds and made just five of 13 free throws.
Myles Monroe paced D&E with 12 points.
The win was the second in a row for Cal, which begins PSAC play Saturday afternoon at home against Lock Haven.