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July 23, 2013

Young has big night to open playoffs

The always more-intense-than-usual playoffs of the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am began Monday night at Greentree Sportsplex and the first round of postseason play was a mixed bag for the Pitt players in attendance.

SPK Law 95, GNC 84

The Mike & Mike show aired later than usual Monday night - the Mike Young and Mike Lecak version, that is.

The pair of Panthers combined for more than half of their team's points en route to a first-round playoff victory. Young posted 36 points on 16-of-25 shooting and his Pitt teammate added 19 points including five 3-pointers.

Young showed a little of everything in his offensive arsenal. He scored in the post, ran the floor in transition, took his defender off the dribble, made jump shots and hit 4 of 5 free throws to go along with his 15 rebounds. Lecak, a sophomore walk-on who redshirted last season, finished 6 of 9 from the floor and keyed the game's decisive run.

After a deep 3-pointer and another basket by Duquesne's Derrick Colter, who scored a team-high 25, gave GNC its first lead of the second half, Lecak responded with a 3 of his own to tie the score at 62. He followed with a fastbreak layup, another 3 and two free throws as part of a 12-2 run that allowed SPK to pull away midway through the second half.

SPK never looked back, thanks in part to a couple deep jump shots by Young. A Colter 3-pointer cut GNC's deficit to four at 84-80 but that was as close as it would get.

Robert Morris' Jeremiah Worthem added 14 and Davidson's Tom Droney 13 for second-seeded SPK, which advanced to the semifinals tonight.

Duquesne guard Tra'Vaughn White scored 22 and Robert Morris forward Stephan Hawkins added 16 for No. 7 seed GNC, which was down to just five players after Duquesne freshmen big men Jordan

Robinson and Darius Lewis left the game early with injuries.

The Lair 78, UPMC 52

Trailing by 26 with just under a minute remaining, a 3-point attempt by Josh Newkirk seemingly touched every part of the rim before bouncing out. It was just that kind of night for him and his UPMC teammates.

Ovie Soko had 23 points and 18 rebounds, LG Gill scored 17 and Devin Williams added 14 to lead No. 4 seed The Lair to a semifinal matchup against top-seeded P&W BMW.

The Lair jumped out to a quick 10-3 about six minutes in and a jump shot from Duquesne freshman Gill provided a 36-23 halftime lead, the largest of the game to that point.

Pitt redshirt sophomore Durand Johnson and freshman Jamel Artis helped UPMC cut the deficit to single digits a few times midway through the second half but 53-45 after two Johnson free throws was as close as they would get.

Johnson, Artis and fellow Pitt freshman Newkirk had tough shooting nights. Johnson was 5 of 16 from the floor and made 1 of 7 3-pointers on his way to 14 points, Artis was 3 of 9 and scored 10 points. Newkirk, who finished fifth in the league in scoring in the regular season with 21.8 points per game, was stifled by Duquesne freshman guard Desmond Ridenour for much of the game and scored just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting. Fifth-seeded UPMC lost Robert Morris center Mike McFadden to a knee injury early in the game, leaving the team with just five players. Robert Morris forward Lucky Jones scored a team-high 21.

PGT Trucking 76, Oliverio's Peppers 67

It took a while - into the night and the game itself - but eventually, two players with some of the most impressive credentials in the league made their presence felt.

Pitt redshirt senior Talib Zanna - leading scorer in the Pro-Am regular season with 27.2 points per game - scored 18 of his 29 points in the second half and hauled in 17 boards. And Pitt sophomore James Robinson - who won a gold medal earlier this month with the USA Under-19 team - sank a 3-pointer to seal the win for No. 3 seed PGT, which advances to face No. 2 SPK in the semifinals.

PGT trailed, 63-58, with seven minutes left before finishing on an 18-4 run ignited by a three-point play from Zanna and highlighted by the three biggest points of Robinson's 17 total. Robinson's 3-pointer came with just under two minutes left to give PGT a 72-65 lead. A turnover by Robert Morris' Desjuan Newton gave Oliverio's Peppers a chance to trim the deficit but Pitt redshirt freshman Chris Jones missed a 3-point attempt.

Robinson did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 10 points, but PGT trailed, 39-35, at the break. West Virginia's Terry Henderson was an efficient 7-of-10 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, en route to 19 points for Oliverio's Peppers. Jones scored a team-high 20 on 9-of-19 shooting but had trouble finishing around the hoop in the second half.

Zanna scored inside and out, facing up and driving to the hoop, sinking 6 of 8 free throws, and even making a 3-pointer to continue his dominance of the league. Robinson was sloppy at times, finishing with 10 turnovers to four assists. But Robert Morris big man Lijah Thompson proved a reliable third wheel, scoring several key baskets in the second-half run and finishing with 16 points.

Playoff schedule
Tuesday, July 23
Greentree SportsPlex

No. 1 P&W BMW vs. No. 4 The Lair, 7:15 p.m.
No. 2 SPK Law vs. No. 3 PGT Trucking, 8:30 p.m.





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