Pitt finds a way to win season opener over ACC foe Florida State | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Pitt finds a way to win season opener over ACC foe Florida State

Jerry DiPaola
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt03-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Eric Hamilton scores past Florida State’s RaiQuan Gray in the first half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt02-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Trey McGowens comes up with a loose ball between Florida State’s Patrick Williams and Wyatt Wilkes in the first half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt01-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Florida State’s Devin Vassal defends on Pitt’s Xavier Johnson in the first half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt09-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Justin Champagnie scores between Florida State’s Patrick Williams and Malik Osborne in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt11-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Terrell Brown scores between Anthony Polite and Trent Forrest Florida State’s in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt13-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Eric Hamilton pulls down a rebound against Florida State in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt06-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel smiles as time runs out on Florida State in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt12-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel reacts to a call that went in favor of Florida State in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt15-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Xavier Johnson is fouled by Florida State’s Malik Osborne in the first half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt08-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Trey McGownes rips the ball away from Florida State’s Devin Vassell in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt05-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Ryan Murphy hits a three pointer against Florida State in the first half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt07-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Terrell Brown scores over Florida State’s Malik Osborne in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt10-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Trey McGowens scores past Florida State’s RaiQuan Gray and RayQuan Evans in the second half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt14-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Ryan Murphy reacts to hitting a three pointer against Florida State in the first half Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.
1907412_web1_gtr-Pitt04-110719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Justin Champagnie, Terrell Brown and Xavier Johnson celebrate beating Florida State in the season opener Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.

Allison Murphy wasn’t especially pleased when her son Ryan, who grew up in Calabasas, Calif., decided to transfer to Pitt.

“My mom is going to hate me for saying this,” Pitt’s junior guard said Wednesday night. “But no part of her wanted me to go to the East Coast. She loves L.A.”

Mom may learn to love Pittsburgh, too, after she watched her son help lead Pitt to a 63-61 victory against Florida State in the Panthers’ opener at Petersen Events Center.

At least she knows where Murphy hangs out nights.

Murphy, Xavier Johnson and Terrell Brown each scored 13 points, each stepping up at different, crucial moments to make big plays.

None of it happened by accident. Especially in regards to Murphy, who spends so much time in the Pete, he probably should pay rent.

“Every night I come back here around 7 to 10 o’clock,” he said after the game, “and I make anywhere from 500 to 700 shots.

“Catch and shoot, off the dribble, free throws, everything.

“In the morning I work out with (assistant) coach (Milan) Brown and then we have practice. I’m in here all day.”

It showed against the Seminoles.

When Pitt was struggling in the first half on its way to a 24 percent shooting effort from the field, Murphy hit two 3-pointers to ignite the crowd of 9,016 and kick-start the Pitt offense.

In the second half, he hit another 3-pointer, all four of his foul shots and grabbed an important defensive rebound with 21 seconds left to preserve a one-point lead.

“He can really shoot,” coach Jeff Capel said of the junior college transfer who lived in five states and attended two colleges before choosing Pitt over Gonzaga and Washington State. “He’s very confident. He knows how to play and he has a passion for playing.”

Murphy didn’t start, but he played 31 minutes as Capel stuck with the same five players – Johnson, Brown, Murphy, Trey McGowens and freshman Justin Champagnie – over the final 11 minutes, 38 seconds of the game.

“I coach on rhythm,” Capel said. “I don’t have any set patterns, I thought they had a good thing going and I wanted to ride with them.”

Each player contributed in different ways.

With Pitt down by one and 5:42 left, McGowens, a 6-foot-4 guard, grabbed a defensive rebound – one of his team-high seven – went down court and made two free throws.

Later, Champagnie hit a 3-pointer to give Pitt a 54-52 lead. Johnson and Brown made two late 2-pointers that broke ties at 54 and 56.

None was more dramatic than Brown’s lay-in with two minutes left.

He said he wanted to dunk, but he was fouled. The basketball rested on the rim for a few seconds, rolled around it and, finally, fell through the cords. Brown made the foul shot to give Pitt a three-point lead it never relinquished.

“I looked at it and said, `You better go in,’ ” Brown said. “You tell it to go in, she goes in.”

Capel was pleased to record the victory in what he called an “ugly” game, something to be expected in an opener against a formidable opponent that was in the Sweet 16 last year.

“I was really proud that we fought,” he said. “And we found a way to win. I thought we showed a lot of toughness, we showed a lot of togetherness.”

Pitt had more 3-pointers (nine) than 2-pointers (seven) and, overall, shot only 31.4 percent from the field. But the Panthers out-rebounded a bigger Florida State team, 37-35, and fouled out three of its players. Pitt also was efficient and productive from the foul line (22 of 31).

Capel said Brown, who didn’t start, played his best game in two years, but the junior center has no intention to rest on those words, especially with 30 games ahead of him.

“It’s great to celebrate tonight,” he said. “After tonight, (Thursday) we have practice at 1. It means nothing.”

Get the latest news about Pitt basketball and all things Panthers athletics.

ACC Videos

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pitt
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.