HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team advanced to its first Big South Championship game since 2006 with an 85-70 win over Radford in the conference semifinals on Saturday afternoon in the Millis Center. Junior Erin Reynolds and sophomore Cheyenne Parker each scored at least 20 points in the win.
“I am once again so proud of how the team played today,” head coach Jennifer Hoover said. “It was a total team effort. We talked before the game about how it was all about team and that we were going to have to work together and from top to bottom the players just stepped up and did what they needed to do.”
Reynolds shot 7-19 from the field and 6-8 from the line to finish with a game-high 22 points. It was her third-straight 20-point game and her team-high ninth of the season. Reynolds flirted with a triple-double in the contest, finishing with a team-high nine assists and eight rebounds.
Parker controlled the game in the first half, posting a double-double in the opening period with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds in just 26 minutes of action. Parker also set a new Big South semifinal record with six blocks. The sophomore now has 384 rebounds on the season and needs just 16 to become the first Big South player to grab 400 in a season.
Sophomore Tayler Tremblay had another big game with 18 points on 6-9 shooting to go along with two assists and two steals.
Radford was led on the day by Ayana Avery who came off the bench to score a team-high 19 points. Avery shot 5-10 from behind the arc in the contest. Juniors Ashley Buckhannon and Da’Naria Erwin Spencer also had double digits on the day with 16 and 15 points respectively.
High Point improved to 20-11 on the season with the win, reaching the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2005-06 season when HPU went 20-10. Radford finishes the season with a 16-15 record.
The game was close through much of the first half as the lead switched hands six times with two ties. The Panthers trailed RU by two with just under 11 minutes left in the half when a layup by Parker and a three pointer by Reynolds moved HPU in front, 18-15.
High Point still led by three, 28-25, before closing the half on a 9-4 run to take a 37-29 lead into the break. Four different HPU players scored in the run including Parker who had the final four points on a pair of free throws and a layup off a lob pass from Reynolds.
The Panthers carried their run from the end of the first half into the start of the second, outscoring the Highlanders 6-2 in the opening two minutes to jump ahead by 12, 43-31, and force an RU timeout.
High Point continued to grow its lead out of the timeout, pushing it to 20, 58-38, on a trey from junior Laura Whitt with 12:07 remaining in the game. Radford managed to score four quick points to cut the lead to 16, but HPU came back with a 14-5 run over the next 4:30 to open its biggest lead of the game, 72-47, on a free throw by Tremblay.
Radford fouled late and used some timely three pointers from Avery to cut the deficit under 20, but was unable to pull any closer than 15 as High Point shot 9-12 from the charity stripe down the stretch to pick up the 85-70 win.
HPU finished the game with a 42-22 edge in points in the paint and 29-8 advantage in points off turnovers. The Panthers turned RU over 22 times on the day and nabbed 14 steals including four by Reynolds.
High Point will now advance to the Big South Championship game on Sunday, March 11, where they will take on No. 1-seed Liberty. HPU has never beaten the Flames in the Big South tournament and has lost to Liberty in each of its two championship game appearances. The two teams split during the regular season with each picking up the win on the road.