CONWAY, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team will take on Gardner-Webb in the semifinals of the Big South Tournament on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the HTC Center in Conway, S.C.
The Panthers (19-11) have won the two previous meetings with the Runnin’ Bulldogs (15-16) this season. HPU will be looking to return to the conference championship after dropping last season’s title game to Winthrop.
How High Point Got Here:
The Purple & White earned the No. 3 seed, and a first-round bye, with a 14-6 conference record. In the quarterfinals against Presbyterian, the Panthers were led by redshirt-senior Stacia Robertson who posted 17 points and seven rebounds.
Robertson, the Big South Player of the Year, led a senior class that combined for 54 of the squad’s 75 points (72 percent). Redshirt-senior Lindsay Puckett hit four 3-pointers en route to a 16-point outing while senior Ashante Richard tied her career high with 14 points.
Sophomore Kaylah Keys eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career with 10 points. The Southaven, Miss. native reached the milestone in 63 games and is the ninth Panther to score 1,000 points since the program moved to Division I.
How Gardner-Webb Got Here:
The No. 7 seeded Runnin’ Bulldogs are the lowest seed to advance to the semifinals. After registering a 9-11 record in the regular season, the team bested No. 10 Longwood (63-55) and upset No. 2 Radford (70-56).
Junior Candace Brown has led GWU’s charge into the semifinals with 13 points against Longwood and 14 against Radford. The team, which is shooting 29 percent from 3-point land this season, hit 9-of-14 (64 percent) from beyond the arc to beat the Highlanders.
Junior Olivia Parker and senior Jessica Hellig give the Runnin’ Bulldogs a dangerous inside duo as both average 10-plus points per game. GWU will look to pound the ball inside and have attempted 130 more free throws this season than any other Big South team.
• The Panthers have a 16-10 advantage in the all-time series including winning four straight and seven of the last eight. GWU won the only meeting between the two programs’ in the Big South Tournament.
• Saturday’s game will likely feature an up-and-down. The Panthers want to get up and down the court and lead the conference with 69.9 ppg. Meanwhile, Gardner-Webb is fourth in the league scoring 64.8 ppg.
• High Point’s redshirt-senior forward Stacia Robertson became the second player in the program’s history to be named Big South Player of the Year. She joined Katie O’Dell who won the award in 2005-06.
• Kaylah Keys and Stacia Robertson form the second highest-scoring tandem in the Big South, just 0.2 ppg behind Winthrop’s Erica Williams and Schaquilla Nunn. The inside-outside duo is averaging 29.1 points a game. Robertson is third in the league with 15.8 ppg while Keys is fourth with 14.0 ppg.
• Keys reached the 1,000-point milestone with 10 points in the win over Presbyterian. It only took her 63 games to reach that mark.
• The Panthers are a second-half squad and have outscored their opponents after halftime in 20-of-30 games this season and are 1-0 in overtime games. The Purple & White is 11-0 when leading at the half and 1-0 when the game is tied headed to the break. The team has produced six wins after trailing at the half including four double-digit comeback wins.
• The Purple & White is 18-3 when at least three players reach double figures in scoring. The first win over Gardner-Webb was the only time this season the team won with two-or-fewer players scoring 10-plus points.
On the Other Side:
In the tournament’s other semifinal, No. 1 Liberty will take on No. 5 Campbell. The Panthers fell to the Flames in both of the meetings this season while HPU split with the Camels.