Pitt faced Monmouth on Monday night at the Petersen Events Center and defeated the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team 63-50. The game got off to an ugly start, with neither team able to gain traction on offense in the early goings, but Pitt found its stride in the second half. When all was said and done, Justin Champagnie stood out as a top performer on the team, as he logged a double-double in the first start of his collegiate career.
The native of Brooklyn, New York, amassed 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field, and he also led the team with 10 rebounds. In addition, he logged an assist, a block and a steal in a span of 24 minutes. Champagnie’s 12 points and 10 blocks were both personal bests, and Monday marked the third straight game in which the freshman scored in double figures. It was also his third consecutive game sinking 100 percent of his free throws, and over that three-game span, he was awarded a total of 10 shots from the charity stripe.
Last year, Champagnie was a star at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, and he averaged 19.8 points per game in his senior season. He also turned heads overseas this summer, as he averaged 10 points per game with Pitt in Italy. It was unclear how quickly that would translate to results in college competition, but the early returns have been promising, with Champagnie among the top scorers on the team. Five games into the season, he is averaging 9.4 points per game.
Champagnie's starting opportunity came after Au'Diese Toney, who has been a regular starter for Pitt, scored just one point in 16 minutes against West Virginia last Friday. The Backyard Brawl was Toney's third game of the season with four or fewer points and his second with zero made shots from the field in 13 minutes or more of action. In addition, Gerald Drumgoole was sidelined with a left ankle injury that he suffered in practice over the weekend.
Toney bounced back and scored 10 points off the bench against Monmouth, but Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said he is uncertain when Drumgoole will return. Given all that, it's unclear if Champagnie will become a regular fixture in the starting lineup moving forward, but given his performance, he should continue to see a good amount of minutes at the least.