Trey McGowens scored 16 points, and Xavier Johnson added 15 points and nine assists to lead host Pittsburgh past Monmouth 63-50 in the opening game of the Fort Myers Tip-off on Monday.
Freshman Justin Champagnie scored 12 points and grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds in his first-ever start for the Panthers (3-2).
Mustapha Traore led Monmouth with 12 points while Ray Salnave added 10. Salnave has scored in double figures in all five games for the Hawks (1-4).
Monmouth led 8-2 after the first eight minutes as the Panthers missed eight of their first nine shots.
Pittsburgh's shooting woes continued as it went 1 of 14 yet trailed only 12-6 with 8:17 remaining in the half. The field-goal drought lasted more than eight minutes for Pittsburgh.
McGowens knocked down a 3-pointer -- the only one for the Panthers on 11 first-half attempts -- and their deficit was just 12-11.
Salnave knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing as Monmouth went ahead 16-13.
Despite shooting 5 of 26 (19.2 percent) and committing 12 turnovers, the Panthers managed to take a 21-19 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Hawks were 8 of 25 (32 percent) with 12 giveaways in the half.
Johnson hit a deep trey and Pittsburgh pulled out slightly to a 31-26 advantage early in the second half.
The Hawks closed within 41-37 when George Papas hit a 3-pointer with 10:01 left.
Consecutive baskets by McGowens and Johnson extended Pittsburgh's lead to 48-39, causing Monmouth coach King Rice to call timeout with 7:16 left.
The Hawks pulled within 53-46 with 3:53 remaining. Deion Hammond missed a 3-point try on their next possession.
On Pittsburgh's next trip, Champagnie scored in the paint, and the lead moved back to nine.
Champagnie finished an alley-oop dunk from McGowens' pass, and the advantage reached double figures. It was more than enough of a cushion to propel the Panthers to a nonconference home win after they dropped their first two to Nicholls State and West Virginia.
The Panthers ended up outshooting the Hawks 39.6 percent to 37.3 percent.
--Field Level Media