Site: Boiling Springs, N.C. (Paul Porter Arena)
Score: Gardner-Webb 70, High Point 57
Records: GWU: 10-9 (5-5 Big South), HPU: 8-11 (6-4 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Feb. 1 — vs. Winthrop (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.), 2 p.m.
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team saw its winning streak end Tuesday night (Jan. 28) at Gardner-Webb with a 70-57 loss to the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Freshman Amaria McNear set a career-high with eight blocks two away from matching the Division I era single-game record for HPU. It’s the fifth time a single Panther has recorded eight blocks in a game, tied for the fourth-most in the Panthers’ D1 history.
“Gardner-Webb played really well today,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the loss. “They shot the ball extremely well, got to the foul line, and made us make some uncharacteristic mistakes. Hats off to them on a very well-played game.”
High Point scored the first points of the game but struggled to break down Gardner-Webb’s press successfully afterward. The Runnin’ Bulldogs scored five straight to take the lead, extending it to as many as six before Camryn Brown and Zaria Wright connected from downtown on back-to-back possessions to level things at 10-all. The hosts took the lead again shortly after and dominated the last half of the opening quarter, ending it on a 10-0 run to take a 22-12 lead into the second.
Gardner-Webb extended its lead to 14 points before the Panthers went on an 11-0 run to make it a one-possession game, 30-27. Mcnear had back-to-back layups on the run, with her second coming as a direct result of her fifth block of the night, becoming the first Panther since 2015 to record five blocks in a game. The momentum shifted back to GWU after High Point’s run, and the hosts closed out the half on an 8-3 run to take a 38-30 lead into halftime.
Similar to the second quarter, Gardner-Webb extended its lead to start the third before a big High Point run. HPU went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to three points, but once again the Runnin’ Bulldogs had an answer and outscored the Panthers by five to end the quarter with an eight-point lead just like at halftime, 50-42.
McNear dropped in a layup on the opening possession of the fourth quarter but GWU controlled the next five minutes until the first media timeout, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to retake a 14-point lead, 60-46. The Panthers kept fighting, and hit triples from Callie Scheier and Wright, followed by an inside bucket by Brown to cut it to six points.
That was as close as the Purple and White got down the stretch, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs scored the next five to extend their lead back to double digits. Brown connected from behind the arc to make it an eight-point difference again but GWU picked up two offensive rebounds on the next possession to run the clock down to 40 seconds before the Panthers were forced to foul. Gardner-Webb hit its free throws and held defensively to get the victory and end High Point’s winning streak.
McNear got into foul trouble in the second half and only played seven minutes after the break. She became just the third different Panther in the Division I era of HPU women’s basketball to record at least eight blocks in a game. The Purple and White’s 10 blocks as a team are the most for the Panthers since Dec. 2, 2014, when HPU swatted 10 against Longwood.
“Mari’s eight blocks is pretty unbelievable,” Banbury said of the freshman’s performance. “She has great length and timing and can alter a lot of shots.”
High Point ended the game with 30 attempts from behind the arc for a total of 622 on the season, a new program record. This year surpasses the previous best of 613 from the 2006-07 season.
The Panthers are back in action at home on Saturday (Feb. 1) when Winthrop comes to the Millis Center to kick off the second half of the Big South schedule. HPU will stay at home for one more game, hosting Hampton in a rematch of Saturday’s game on Tuesday (Feb. 4).