After two days of sightseeing, Pitt defeats The Netherlands, 60-55, in Rome
For a team that spent the previous two days sightseeing, the Pitt squad responded better than anyone could have expected Thursday to win its first game in Italy, 60-55, against The Netherlands “B” team.
The game was played at Fonte RomaEur in Rome after the team had visited the Colosseum, Vatican City and Trevi Fountain among other historic sites.
Xavier Johnson and newcomer Ryan Murphy combined to score 33 points. Johnson scored a game-high 20 and added four rebounds and three assists. Murphy, a junior-college transfer, was four of eight from beyond the 3-point arc and finished with 13 points and a team-high six rebounds.
“First and foremost, defensively we did a pretty good job,” Pitt assistant coach Tim O’Toole said. “On the road, obviously, to a national team with pros. So, we’re happy with that.”
In a game played with a four-quarter format, Murphy triggered a rally in the final period by hitting two 3-point field goals to give Pitt a 48-44 lead. The Panthers led throughout the final 10 minutes.
The Netherlands surged to a 12-6 lead before a 3-point field goal by freshman Justin Champagnie gave Pitt a 14-12 lead after the first quarter.
Late turnovers before halftime helped The Netherlands take a 24-22 lead into the break. Boy van Vlient picked off an errant pass and scored to give the Netherlands the lead. Pitt shot 8 of 34 (23.5 percent) and committed 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes but kept pace with a 17-11 rebounding advantage.
“There are plenty of good things that happened,” O’Toole said, “but things we need to tighten up.”
Pitt will depart Rome on Friday morning and travel to Florence to prepare for a Saturday game against the Florence All-Stars.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .