MIAMI — Scoring the first eight points of the third quarter helped the Pittsburg St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers claim a 54-44 victory over Miami here Tuesday, Jan. 2.

The Wardogs broke out to a 17- 8 lead in the first 5:50 of the game thanks to a barrage of three treys.

However, SMC turned things around with a 15-3 run and turned the game into a nip-and-tuck battle until midway through the fourth quarter.

“We knew going in the intensity they would bring to the table, which was typical of them,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “I was disappointed in our energy level. We had a few stretches there. We saw it coming and have to get it corrected.”

After winning three straight, Miami now has dropped back-to-back games to fall to 3-5.

The game was tied at 27 at the break, but SMC scored the final seven of the third quarter to open up a 38-31 advantage.

The closest Miami would get the rest of the way was four points, 40-36 on a trey by Kaleb Jinks with 6:41 remaining.

“They are always going to be physical and will wear you down a little bit with the things they do on defense and the patience they have on offense,” Mercer said. “We were chasing them a lot on defense.”

Jinks finished with a team-high 13 points.

Eli Lewis came off the bench to score nine for the Dogs.

Others with points for Miami were Kai Hamilton, seven; Grant Nolte, six; Conner Womack, five, and Drew Williams, four.

“We didn’t attack very well offensively,” Mercer said. “We shot way too many 3s. When we’ve had success this year, our 3s (have been) around 12 to 15. We’ve shot a great percentage inside the 3-point line by spreading people out and getting the ball in the paint.

“We shot way too many perimeter shots (launching 25 while hitting only eight). That’s not going to beat many people.”

The Wardogs went to the free throw line three times, hitting just two.

“That’s a byproduct of us not really getting the ball to the post and getting the ball in the paint with dribble-penetration,” Mercer said. “I just didn’t like the way we attacked at all.”

The Panthers had four players score in double figures, topped by Jeremiah Buche’s 15 points.

Matthew Lomshek had 11 while Bradley Beykirch and Aaron Higginbotham added 10 each.

Next:

Miami travels to Seneca Thursday, Jan. 4 then hosts Kansas on Jan. 5.