Three was the Pitt men’s basketball team’s lucky number Friday night.
The Panthers (5-1) utilized a season-high 11 made 3-pointers to defeat the Morehead State Eagles at the Petersen Events Center, 76-63. Senior forward Michael Young led the way for Pitt once again with 20 points on eight-of-14 shooting.
Panthers head coach Kevin Stallings was again critical of his team after a double-digit victory at his postgame press conference.
“We don’t show any killer instinct yet. I haven’t seen it. We talked about it, and we really want to get rid of people when we have an opportunity to,” Stallings said.
Senior point guard Jamel Artis opened up scoring for Pitt, nailing a three early in the shot clock to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead. Redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson followed suit, hitting two straight long-range shots to extend Pitt’s advantage to 9-2.
Young joined in on the three party a few minutes later, nailing his fifth three-pointer of the year and growing Pitt’s lead to 12-4 with 14:29 left in the first half.
The Panthers continued to utilize the three ball, as guard Jonathan Milligan nailed a trio of three-pointers off the bench. The score sat at 26-15 following Milligan’s third make.
Artis and junior forward Ryan Luther would hit two more threes before the end of the half, giving Pitt nine for the period on 12 opportunities. The Panthers held a 42-26 lead at the half on Artis’ team-high 12 points.
“I was a little disappointed that we sort of had them on the ropes there at halftime, and we didn’t come out and put them away,” Stallings said. “That was something that we talked a lot about.”
The Panthers hot streak from beyond the arc turned into a cold spell to start the second half. Pitt failed to make a single long distance shot in the first 14 minutes of the half, allowing Morehead State to claw within seven points.
Johnson finally broke The Panthers out of their rut, nailing Pitt’s first three of the half to lengthen its lead back to double-digits. The Panthers would end up winning by 13, but Stallings thinks they could have done more to put the Eagles away.
“We just have to play with more passion, more energy, more effort defensively, and not wanting things to come easy to us,” Stallings said.
Young tallied 20 points for the fifth time in six games, while Artis chipped in 17 points and five assists and Johnson added 16 points and four assists. Forward Dejuan Marrero led Morehead State with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Pitt will be travel to College Park, Maryland, on Tuesday to take on the Maryland Terrapins as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.