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Pitt stumbles in tune-up before Maui Invitational

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Pitt stumbles in tune-up before Maui Invitational

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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Pitt fans woke up Saturday morning to see the men’s basketball team lost its first game this year in Hawaii.

In a tune-up game before the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Monday, Pitt lost to the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 74-70 in a game played at midnight EST.

Chris Jones led Pitt (2-1) in scoring with 19 points, and hit a late 3-pointer to make the game closer with less than a minute left as Pitt was making a desperate surge.

Hawaii (4-1) used several smaller guards and a balanced scoring effort to overtake the Panthers, as five Rainbow Warriors scored in double-digits. Isaac Fleming led the team with 15 points off the bench.

The game was close throughout, and Pitt last held a lead with 7:56 left in the game, until Hawaii went on a 7-0 run to take a lead it would not give up.

Pitt briefly had a 10-point lead around midway through the first half from a Cameron Johnson 3-pointer, which would be its largest lead of the game. But Hawaii quickly recovered and the team went into halftime leading 40-36.

Both teams shot 35 percent from 3-point range, but Hawaii shot 53 percent overall compared to Pitt’s 43 percent. While Pitt out-rebounded Hawaii 32-25, the Panthers would have wanted to finish with an even larger margin because of the noticeable size differential between them and the Rainbow Warriors.

Pitt could not break down Hawaii’s late lead quickly enough, mainly because Hawaii made seven of its final nine free throws in the final 51 seconds.

Pitt begins the EA Sports Maui Invitational against Chaminade on Monday at 9 p.m. EST. The game will be available on ESPNU.

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Pitt stumbles in tune-up before Maui Invitational