HPU MBB Captures Matinee Victory Over Thomas Univ., 85-48

Posted by Press Release on December 28, 2014 at 8:35 pm under College | Comments are off for this article

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team (9-3) used a balance scoring effort and strong defensive play to dispatch of visiting Thomas University 85-48 on Sunday afternoon inside the Millis Center.

HPU led 39-29 at the break and outscored the Night Hawks 46-19 in the second half en route to the 37-point victory. The Panthers shot 48.3 percent (28-58) and made 26-of-36 (.722) free throws in the game while limiting Thomas (11-1) to just 18-of-57 (.316) shooting. The Panthers also held the Night Hawks to just 16.7 percent (3-18) from the 3-point line, which tied an opponent season low for HPU.

The Panthers enjoyed sizable advantages in bench scoring (46-28), points off turnovers (25-16) and points in the paint, and were +16 (20-4) in fast break points in the second half.

“I’m very happy with this win. With the holiday lay-off coming back from Christmas, you always worry about the rust,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “But in the second half our guys did an unbelievable job holding [Thomas] to 19 points.”

Redshirt-junior forward John Brown filled the stat sheet for HPU with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks. The Jacksonville, Fla., native also made 6-of-6 attempts from the free throw line.

Junior Lorenzo Cugini added 15 points (5-9 FG) and a team-high seven rebounds in 20 minutes, while freshman Austin White notched a career-best 13 points and made 4-of-5 field goal attempts. Senior Devante Wallace chipped in nine points, five rebounds and a career-high five steals.

HPU led 12-11 at the 12:55 mark of the first half before the Panthers surged ahead by 10 (21-11) on the strength of a 9-0 run. The Night Hawks cut the lead to four at 21-17, but the Panthers responded with a 6-0 spurt to go back up 11 (28-17) at the 6:33 mark of the half. The run included five-straight points from Cugini.

The Night Hawks moved back within six at 28-22, but HPU answered with nine-straight to build its largest lead of the first half at 37-22. The Panthers entered the break ahead by 10 (39-29).

HPU shot 47.8 percent (11-23) in the half and limited Thomas to just 32.3 percent (10-31). The Panthers connected on 15-of-17 (.882) free throw attempts in the period. Brown led HPU with 12 first half points (6-6 FT).

The Purple & White scored seven of the first eight points of the second half to extend their lead to 16 (46-30). With HPU leading 54-39, the Panthers put the game away, using a 21-0 run over the next 6:54 of action to surge ahead by 36 (75-39) with 5:46 remaining in the contest. The run included a sequence in which Devante Wallace stole the ball on three-consecutive Thomas possessions which led to two lay-ins and an alley-oop throwdown by Brown.

HPU’s largest lead of 38 (79-41) came after a lay-in from White with 2:53 left in the contest and the Panthers cruised from there to the 85-48 victory.

The Panthers are 9-3 for the first time since 1995-96, when HPU started 11-3.

“I’m really excited about our non-conference record and putting together the program’s best start in 20 years,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “Our kids deserve a lot of credit for those accomplishments. This group we have in the locker room believes strongly in what they can do. We’ve had a lot of guys step up. They’ve been resilient all year and have taken adversity in stride.”

HPU opens Big South play against the conference’s pre-season favorite Coastal Carolina (9-3) on New Year’s Eve inside the Millis Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on the Big South Network, with streaming audio on the High Point Panthers Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ll get two days of practice in and get prepared for a tremendous basketball game on Wednesday,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “I hope everyone comes out and this place is full because you’re going to see two really good basketball teams compete. I’m not sure you can find as good a game between two teams in this area as you will Wednesday night. It’s going to be a heck of a ball game.”

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