• With the victory, HPU starts the season 2-0 for just the third time in the last 13 seasons
• John Brown led the Panthers with 19 points (7-11 FG) in his return to the HPU lineup
• HPU is back in action at 4:59 a.m. on Tuesday morning vs. Hawai’i (ESPN2) as part of the ESPN 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon
HONOLULU – The High Point University men’s basketball team is 2-0 for just the third time since 2002-03 after racing past Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 74-62, on Saturday evening in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.
After outlasting Bakersfield 100-99 in four overtimes Friday night, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead, then rallied after APB used an 11-0 run to take a 57-53 lead midway through the second half. The Panthers responded with a 15-3 run to go up 70-57 and ultimately take the 12-point win.
“It wasn’t our best effort – we missed a lot of open looks – but we finished the game and did what we needed to do to win,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “Defensively we played really well for the entire game and we still scored 74 on the offensive end against a good zone defense.”
Redshirt-junior John Brown posted a team-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting in his return for the Panthers, while redshirt-senior guard Brian Richardson (6-10 FG) chipped in 16 points for the second-straight night in 31 minutes of work.
Junior forward Lorenzo Cugini tallied 14 points in 26 minutes, while senior Devante Wallace added eight points and a game-high six rebounds. Junior guard Adam Weary distributed a game-high four assists and notched six points on the night.
The Panthers shot a solid 53.2 percent (25-47) – including a 58.3 mark in the second half – and limited the Golden Lions to a 43.1 clip (22-51) for the game. After being out-rebounded by 19 on Friday, the Panthers held a 30-24 edge on the glass Saturday. HPU also held a 13-7 edge in assists and was +12 (23-12) in bench scoring.
The two teams committed a combined 32 turnovers (16-16) in the game, but HPU retained the ball when it needed to late in the contest.
The Panthers showed no signs of fatigue from last night’s 4OT thriller in the early going, as HPU raced out to a 9-2 lead behind four early points from Brown. The Bluff cut the lead to four at 13-9, but HPU used a 6-0 run to move back up by 10 (19-9) after triples from Cugini and sophomore guard Anthony Lindauer. Pine Bluff used an 8-2 run to cut the HPU lead to two (24-22) with 8:46 to play in the first half and APB tied it up at 26-26 on a lay-in by Marcus Mosley.
With the score tied at 28-28, HPU closed out the half on a 4-0 run to take a 32-28 lead into the break. Both teams shot 48 percent from the floor in the half and committed a combined 19 turnovers in the frame. Brown led the Panthers with eight points (4-7 FG) in the stanza.
The Panthers opened up a seven-point lead after a 3-pointer from Lindauer five minutes into the second half, but APB used an 11-0 run midway through the frame to take a 47-43 lead with 12:04 remaining. The Panthers rallied to tie the score at 54-54 with 6:02 to play and from there, HPU used a 16-3 burst to surge in front 70-57 with less than five minutes to play in the game. The run included two 3-point plays from Brown off good feeds from Weary and Richardson. From there, APB could not move closer than 10 (72-62) for the remainder of the contest.
Brown entered the game at 26th on the all-time HPU scoring list with 1,063 career points. With his 19 points Saturday, the Jacksonville, Fla., native moved past Anthony Parrish (1978-82, 1,065), Mike Jefferson (2005-08, 1,067) and Danny Murphy (1981-1985, 1,073) and is now 23rd all-time with 1,082 points.
HPU is 2-0 for just the third time in 13 years, matching the 2002-03 and 2012-13 squads as the only teams to hit the 2-0 mark in the Division I era.
“I’m glad we’ve started out well in Hawai’i – it’s great for our program and shows how far we’ve come in my six years being here,” Cherry said. “We have great kids and we’ve recruited really well. We have the right character kids and the right talent to do the things we want to do. This is another great milestone for our program that we want to keep building on.”
The Panthers wrap up the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic early Tuesday morning at 4:59 a.m. against host Hawai’i inside the Stan Sheriff Center. The contest vs. the Rainbow Warriors will be broadcast live on ESPN2 as part of ESPN’s 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.