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Sunday October 21 2018
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Panthers stunned in home opening overtime loss to Montana

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Led by a game-high 29 points from Michael Oguine, Montana shocked the small crowd in attendance at Petersen Events Center Monday night, pulling off an 83-78 overtime upset over Pitt.

Howard Jones could give a little levity to the situation.

After all, for Pitt (0-2), things can only get better.

Coming off an embarrassing loss to Navy to open the season, a return home for the Panthers did not serve to cure as Montana (2-0), led by a 29-point performance from Michael Oguine, stunned the majority at Petersen Events Center with an 83-78 overtime win over the home team Monday night.

Not since the 1996-97 season has a Pitt team started the season 0-2.

Pitt also broke its streak of 20 consecutive home opener wins, while losing its first opener in Petersen Events Center.

“Disappointing, obviously,” said a disgruntled Kevin Stallings.  “Trouble with their guards.  We knew that was a possibility.  Didn’t take good enough care of the ball.  Our turnovers resulted in points, there’s didn’t.  We had couple of chances where we could have built the lead out.  We just made careless turnovers and gave them layups.  Felt like we were fighting it the whole night.”

Thanks to a consistent dribble-drive penetration from its backcourt, Montana, who last beat a power-conference team in 201, hung 42 points in the paint, while making good on 30 points-off-turnovers, in which the Panthers committed an atrocious 19 for the game.

“We gotta guard the drive better,” said Ryan Luther, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.  “We have to be in our gaps better.  We can’t be that inconsistent.”

With just 27 seconds left in the game and down one, the Panthers had a chance to grab the lead when on a perfectly-executed inbound play, Luther was lined up for a wide-open baseline jumper, in which the shot rimmed in and out.  Luther fouled out on the next play, sending Sayeed Pridgett to the line, who made true on both shots, giving Montana a three-point lead.

“It was just how coach drew it up, I just missed it,” Luther said.

“We ran that play in practice and every time he made the shot, and then the game he misses,” said Stallings of the critical play drawn up for Luther.  “He was wide open, he just couldn’t get it in the goal.  You can’t blame him.  He played his butt off.”

Shamiel Stevenson led the Panthers with a team-best 19 points (7-of-10 from the field), while Jared Wilson-Frame was the only other player to achieve double-digit scoring for Pitt with 15.

“We knew they weren’t the greatest defensive team, and I kind of just picked my spots and looked for the shot,” explained Stevenson of his 7-of-10 shooting performance, which was complimented by a six rebound and three assist night.

Overall, the Panthers shot 27-of-61 (44.3%) from the field, while Montana went 30-of-66 (45.5%).  With 18 fast break points scored by Montana, the lynchpin of Monday’s success talked about exploiting Pitt’s defense.

“I feel like we had a pretty good gameplan. We knew what we wanted to do,” said Oguine, who went 10-of-22 from the field, adding five assists and six rebounds to his stellar campaign.  “They weren’t expecting me to drive as much as I was, but they were kind of playing off of me and they had their guard down.  Second half they did a pretty good job of adjusting, but the 3-pointer was wide open because of the room.”

Oguine hit back-to-back three-pointers with just over two minutes left in the game, giving Montana a two-point advantage, which answered a Panthers’ 7-2 run.

Montana had four double-digit scorers, including Ahmaad Rorie’s 17 points and Bobby Moorehead’s 14.  Pitt got eight points from Marcus Carr, and a seven-point night from Khameron Davis.

“We had chances to win it and we missed a critical free throw that would have kept it tied,” Stallings said.  “We missed a couple of shots that were pretty good looks at the end of the game.  We just have to keep working and keep trying.  They play hard and they compete.  They want to do the right thing.  Sometimes, it’s youth.  We have to learn from our mistakes.”

After the spread

The Panthers, who closed as 2.5-point favorites, failed to cover for the second time this season.  Montana won straight up as the slight +125 road dog.

The total, which was set at 141, went well over with 161 points combined.

Up next

The Panthers will look to reverse the tide in a Wednesday home game against UC Santa Barbara.  Tipoff from Petersen Events Center is set for 7 PM.

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