The University of Pittsburgh powered inside for 48 points on its way to a convincing 77-45 win over the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Friday night.
The NCAA men’s basketball exhibition game was played at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.
The Division I Panthers, under head coach Jamie Dixon, rolled to a 39-21 lead at the intermission before 6,115 fans. Then in the second half, the hosts outscored the smaller Vulcans 38-24 as both teams substituted freely in the game — Dixon played 11 players anywhere from 10 to 23 minutes and every one scored at least a point.
Talib Zanna, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound junior forward, and reserve J.J. Moore each scored 13 points to lead Pitt. Shooting guard James Robinson had nine points, point guard Tray Woodall had six points and eight assists, and 7-foot, 250-pound center Steven Adams added six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“We got off to a really bad start, and their length and strength gave us all kinds of problems,” UH-Hilo head coach Jeff Law said. “We only scored four points in the first 12 minutes and were down 22-4. But we settled down and then scored 17 points in the final 8 minutes. We had a chance to cut it to 16 but missed a layup just before the halftime buzzer.”
In the second half, Law said the Panthers “kept coming in droves, with guys coming in off the bench bigger and stronger than some of the starters.”
Senior guard Mychael Hearn led the Vulcans with five rebounds.
Junior Lucas Swanson, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, led UH-Hilo in scoring with 10 points. He hit 4 of 10 field goals, including two 3-pointers. Juniors Michael Melonas and Paul Batausa each had eight points, and junior guard Derek Owens added seven points and a steal. Senior point guard CJ Brown only scored one point, but he handed out a team-high five assists to go with four rebounds in a team-high 29 minutes.
Law played all 10 men who he took on the road trip, and eight scored against the aggressive Panthers.
“The experience was worth it,” Law said. “A slow start might have been due to nerves, but once the guys came out of the locker room, the crowd got all over them. Then we got down early and had a lot of turnovers, but the guys didn’t give up and kept battling.
“It was a good effort, something they can definitely learn from.”
The Vulcans play at Duquesne, another NCAA Division I team, at 2 p.m. Sunday to conclude their two-game trip to Pittsburgh. Following Sunday’s exhibition, UH-Hilo flies to Oregon to play Western Oregon on Nov. 9 and St. Martin’s on Nov. 10 to wrap up the four-game road swing.