Panthers dominate Niagara in season-opener

The Panthers built an early 28-point lead en route to a 33-point victory against the Niagara Purple Eagles, having now won 18 consecutive season-opening games.

The Pitt Panthers weren't happy with their defense following two exhibition games in which they allowed their opposition to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field. In turn, head coach Jamie Dixon's team emphasized defense even more than usual in the week leading up to Pitt's season-opener against the Niagara Purple Eagles.

Whatever the Panthers did worked. They held Niagara to only 12 made field goals and 25 percent shooting while starting the game on a 32-4 run that led to a 78-45 rout of Niagara Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.

"We got off to a great start," Dixon said. "Defense is coming along, we've got a long way to go, but we're getting better."

Pitt (1-0) held Niagara (0-1) to just one point in the first 6:15 of the game before Cameron Fowler connected on a jumpshot for the Purple Eagles. By then, the Panthers already built a 15-3 lead.

Holding the Purple Eagles to one field goal in the game's first 14 minutes allowed the Panthers to put the game away early with their defense.

The key adjustment for the Panthers was an improving on guarding ball screens, which forward Jamel Artis said "distracted" the Purple Eagles from scoring.

"Showing and switching on ball screens helped a lot," Artis said. "That messed up their offense."

Artis led the Panthers with a career-high 14 points alongside four rebounds and four assists. Chris Jones added 10 points while Josh Newkirk and Cameron Johnson came off the bench to scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Panthers played well as a team, recording 20 assists on 30 made field goals as they shot 52.6 percent from the field.

Johnson, a true freshman, impressed in his first collegiate action as he was thrust into duty with not only the injury to Cam Wright but also the suspension of Durand Johnson for the 2014-15 season that was announced before Friday's game.

"I feel as a team we all need to step up," Cameron Johnson said, "and that includes me."

Dixon added Johnson to his Class of 2014 late, signing him in April in which he envisioned the guard as a "good redshirt guy."

"We get him in the summer, he may not be redshirting," Dixon said. "We get him in the fall, he’s too good to be redshirting. That’s been answered and that’s a good thing."

Johnson is also a local product out of Moon Township and said it was "awesome" to play for a team he watched growing up.

"I came to the games all the time when I was little," Johnson said. "It was a great feeling just to get out there and play."

Emile Blackman, playing in his first game for the Purple Eagles after transferring from LIU Post and sitting out last season, led all scorers with 16 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Blackman was one of many players seeing their first action for Niagara under second-year head coach Chris Casey.

"Our inexperience was very, very evident," Casey said. "Very, very evident in the first 12 minutes of the game."

NOTES

--Freshman forward Ryan Luther was unavailable Friday as a result of swelling in his foot. Dixon added he doubts Luther will be able to practice tomorrow or play in Sunday's game against Samford.


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The Pitt Panthers weren't happy with their defense following two exhibition games in which they allowed their opposition to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field. In turn, head coach Jamie Dixon's team emphasized defense even more than usual in the week leading up to Pitt's season-opener against the Niagara Purple Eagles.

\r\n

Whatever the Panthers did worked. They held Niagara to only 12 made field goals and 25 percent shooting while starting the game on a 32-4 run that led to a 78-45 rout of Niagara Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.

\r\n

\"We got off to a great start,\" Dixon said. \"Defense is coming along, we've got a long way to go, but we're getting better.\"

\r\n

Pitt (1-0) held Niagara (0-1) to just one point in the first 6:15 of the game before Cameron Fowler connected on a jumpshot for the Purple Eagles. By then, the Panthers already built a 15-3 lead.

\r\n

Holding the Purple Eagles to one field goal in the game's first 14 minutes allowed the Panthers to put the game away early with their defense.

\r\n

The key adjustment for the Panthers was an improving on guarding ball screens, which forward Jamel Artis said \"distracted\" the Purple Eagles from scoring.

\r\n

\"Showing and switching on ball screens helped a lot,\" Artis said. \"That messed up their offense.\"

\r\n

Artis led the Panthers with a career-high 14 points alongside four rebounds and four assists. Chris Jones added 10 points while Josh Newkirk and Cameron Johnson came off the bench to scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

\r\n

The Panthers played well as a team, recording 20 assists on 30 made field goals as they shot 52.6 percent from the field.

\r\n

Johnson, a true freshman, impressed in his first collegiate action as he was thrust into duty with not only the injury to Cam Wright but also the suspension of Durand Johnson for the 2014-15 season that was announced before Friday's game.

\r\n

\"I feel as a team we all need to step up,\" Cameron Johnson said, \"and that includes me.\"

\r\n

Dixon added Johnson to his Class of 2014 late, signing him in April in which he envisioned the guard as a \"good redshirt guy.\"

\r\n

\"We get him in the summer, he may not be redshirting,\" Dixon said. \"We get him in the fall, he’s too good to be redshirting. That’s been answered and that’s a good thing.\"

\r\n

Johnson is also a local product out of Moon Township and said it was \"awesome\" to play for a team he watched growing up.

\r\n

\"I came to the games all the time when I was little,\" Johnson said. \"It was a great feeling just to get out there and play.\"

\r\n

Emile Blackman, playing in his first game for the Purple Eagles after transferring from LIU Post and sitting out last season, led all scorers with 16 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Blackman was one of many players seeing their first action for Niagara under second-year head coach Chris Casey.

\r\n

\"Our inexperience was very, very evident,\" Casey said. \"Very, very evident in the first 12 minutes of the game.\"

\r\n

NOTES

\r\n

--Freshman forward Ryan Luther was unavailable Friday as a result of swelling in his foot. Dixon added he doubts Luther will be able to practice tomorrow or play in Sunday's game against Samford.

","mobileBody":"Follow @NateBarnes_ Follow @PantherDigest

The Pitt Panthers weren't happy with their defense following two exhibition games in which they allowed their opposition to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field. In turn, head coach Jamie Dixon's team emphasized defense even more than usual in the week leading up to Pitt's season-opener against the Niagara Purple Eagles.

Whatever the Panthers did worked. They held Niagara to only 12 made field goals and 25 percent shooting while starting the game on a 32-4 run that led to a 78-45 rout of Niagara Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.

\"We got off to a great start,\" Dixon said. \"Defense is coming along, we've got a long way to go, but we're getting better.\"

Pitt (1-0) held Niagara (0-1) to just one point in the first 6:15 of the game before Cameron Fowler connected on a jumpshot for the Purple Eagles. By then, the Panthers already built a 15-3 lead.

Holding the Purple Eagles to one field goal in the game's first 14 minutes allowed the Panthers to put the game away early with their defense.

The key adjustment for the Panthers was an improving on guarding ball screens, which forward Jamel Artis said \"distracted\" the Purple Eagles from scoring.

\"Showing and switching on ball screens helped a lot,\" Artis said. \"That messed up their offense.\"

Artis led the Panthers with a career-high 14 points alongside four rebounds and four assists. Chris Jones added 10 points while Josh Newkirk and Cameron Johnson came off the bench to scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Panthers played well as a team, recording 20 assists on 30 made field goals as they shot 52.6 percent from the field.

Johnson, a true freshman, impressed in his first collegiate action as he was thrust into duty with not only the injury to Cam Wright but also the suspension of Durand Johnson for the 2014-15 season that was announced before Friday's game.

\"I feel as a team we all need to step up,\" Cameron Johnson said, \"and that includes me.\"

Dixon added Johnson to his Class of 2014 late, signing him in April in which he envisioned the guard as a \"good redshirt guy.\"

\"We get him in the summer, he may not be redshirting,\" Dixon said. \"We get him in the fall, he’s too good to be redshirting. That’s been answered and that’s a good thing.\"

Johnson is also a local product out of Moon Township and said it was \"awesome\" to play for a team he watched growing up.

\"I came to the games all the time when I was little,\" Johnson said. \"It was a great feeling just to get out there and play.\"

Emile Blackman, playing in his first game for the Purple Eagles after transferring from LIU Post and sitting out last season, led all scorers with 16 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Blackman was one of many players seeing their first action for Niagara under second-year head coach Chris Casey.

\"Our inexperience was very, very evident,\" Casey said. \"Very, very evident in the first 12 minutes of the game.\"

NOTES

--Freshman forward Ryan Luther was unavailable Friday as a result of swelling in his foot. Dixon added he doubts Luther will be able to practice tomorrow or play in Sunday's game against Samford.

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