Panthers roll over Swords 81-68

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Pittsburgh’s players crashed and soared in for rebounds, above and through Chaminade’s smaller players.

Out of position or boxed out, it didn’t matter to the Panthers. They were getting the rebounds.

Derrick Randall set a tournament record with 21 rebounds, Michael Young grabbed 15 while scoring 27 points and Pittsburgh rode a dominating performance on the glass to beat host Chaminade 81-68 Monday in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

”We’ve been talking about it for a week that one of the main keys to the game is going to be boxing these guys out and preventing them from getting offensive rebounds,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. ”It’s a lot harder to do than it looks on film.”

Pittsburgh (3-1) struggled to get shots to fall early against Chaminade, allowing the Silverswords hope of another upset.

The Panthers erased any hope by bulling in for 27 offensive rebounds – 10 more than Chaminade’s total – that led to 34 second chance points, including 15 straight to open the game. Pittsburgh had 51 rebounds overall and came to life offensively, rolling over the Silverswords.

James Robinson had 15 points and Randall added 11 for the Panthers.

”We didn’t shoot it great, but we took great shots and that’s why we were able to get the inside position and the angles we wanted to get,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. ”Knew it was going up, so that helped.”

Chaminade shot 51 percent and made 11 3-pointers, but was no match for Pittsburgh inside, falling into a big early hole because of its rebounding struggles.

Kuany Kuany and Kevin Hu each had 12 points to lead the Division II Silverswords.

Pitt has had a rough start to its 16th season under coach Dixon.

Junior forward Durand Johnson is out for the season after being suspended and senior guard Cameron Wright is still out with a broken left foot, leaving the Panthers without their two best perimeter scorers.

Pittsburgh rolled over Niagara in its opener, but struggled to put away Samford in a 63-56, then opened its Hawaiian road trip by losing to Hawaii on Friday.

That didn’t bode well against the Silverswords, who are scrappy, can shoot and have been known to pull off an upset or two.

It certainly didn’t start off well for Pittsburgh. The Panthers opened the game by missing 12 of their first 16 shots and allowed Chaminade to drop in shots from the perimeter to keep it close.

What did go well for the Panthers was rebounding.

Soaring over the smaller Swords, Pitt had 11 offensive rebounds in the opening nine minutes and scored its first 15 points on putbacks. The Panthers had a 33-8 rebounding advantage by halftime and scored 21 of their 42 points on 19 offensive boards for an 11-point lead.

”We did what we wanted to,” Dixon said. ”We wanted to be a good, defensive team. We wanted to be a good, defensive rebounding team, and we did that for the majority of the game.”

Chaminade made a run after Pitt went up by 17 early in the second half, but could only get the lead down to 10 points as the Panthers found their shooting rhythm. Pittsburgh made 12 of 23 shots in the second half.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: The Panthers grabbed the game’s first nine rebounds. … Randall had 13 rebounds by halftime, Young 10.

Chaminade: Despite its rebounding troubles, the Silverswords did a decent job in the paint, outscored 30-20.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh will face the winner between No. 15 San Diego State and BYU in Tuesday’s semifinals.

Chaminade will face the loser between No. 15 San Diego State and BYU in the loser’s bracket on Tuesday.