Site: Charleston, S.C. (Buccaneer Fieldhouse)
Score: High Point 88, Charleston Southern 65
Records: HPU 13-5 (11-2 Big South), CSU 6-11 (4-9 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, February 6, 2021 — at Charleston Southern (Charleston, S.C.) 6 p.m.
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team got back in the win column Friday evening (Feb. 5) with an 88-65 victory over Charleston Southern University at the Buccaneer Fieldhouse in Charleston, S.C.
Four different Panthers finished in double digits in the contest, led by freshman Claire Wyatt playing on her birthday with 18 for a career-best. The majority of her damage was done from behind the arc as she connected on four shots from deep, also a career-high.
Jenson Edwards and Skyler Curran were right behind Wyatt with 17 points, with Curran also grabbing 13 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Joining them in double digits was Cydney Johnson with 15. Friday’s game marked the seventh time this season that HPU has had four players in double digits, all seven of which have been wins. High Point has largely dominated in those seven games, winning by an average of 17.8 points when four players reach the 10-point mark.
The 88 points are the second-most scored in a game for HPU this season and the most against a Division I opponent on the 2020-21 schedule. Friday was the 20th time the Purple and White have put up 85+ points in a Big South Conference game and the 23-point margin of victory is tied for the second-largest this season and was the 50th time HPU has beaten a conference opponent by 20 points or more.
“We had a very good first half,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the game. “We defended well and made them take tough shots and held them to 25 points in the first half while we shot the ball extremely well against their zone in the first 20 minutes. Claire had a huge game for us on what happened to be her birthday. She knocked down some huge shots and had a big layup at the end too. Charleston Southern played a really good second half. They were attacking us and seeing if we were willing to guard, so there are definitely some adjustments we need to make for tomorrow.”
Junior Jordan Edwards didn’t fill the stat sheet in the points column but had a career day distributing the ball, finishing with a career-high 10 assists and becoming the first player in the Big South this season to register double-digit assists in a single game. She also became the first Panther to accomplish that feat since Camryn Brown had 10 helpers as part of a double-double at North Carolina Central last season. Edwards entered the game with 71 assists on the season and has now moved into the top-20 in the country in total assists.
Not only did Edwards dish out the 10 assists, but she also did so without committing a single turnover on a night where HPU turned the ball over only seven times – the fewest number of turnovers in a game this season.
“Jordan made the right plays today and made the easy passes,” Banbury said of Edwards’ performance. “I was most happy with the zero turnovers to go along with her 10 assists, which shows that she wasn’t forcing anything and she was finding her open teammates. She was making great decisions and was distributing the ball well today.”
High Point played one of the strongest halves of basketball in the opening 20 minutes that it has all year, draining 12 shots from behind the arc as part of a 46.2% shooting effort from the floor in the half. The Panthers shot 58.8% in the second quarter alone, going 10-17 from the floor and 6-11 from deep, for the best-shooting second quarter the Purple and White have had all year.
HPU came out of the gates with a lot of energy and ran to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes that forced Charleston Southern to take a timeout. The Buccaneers got a taste of the three-ball from the start, with Jenson Edwards and Wyatt each connecting from deep in the opening 80 seconds. CSU finally got on the board four minutes in but High Point scored the next 10 to take a 20-2 lead with over three minutes showing on the clock in the quarter.
Wyatt drilled two more from deep to start the run, followed by one from LaImani Simmons and one from Johnson. Six of HPU’s first eight buckets in the game came from beyond the arc and Curran had the two from inside, scoring the Panthers’ final basket of the quarter with just under two to go. Charleston So. had added two free throws at that point to make it 22-4 and then scored its second and final field goal of the quarter to make it 22-6 heading to the second.
The six points allowed in the first quarter are tied for the fewest HPU has surrendered in the first 10 minutes, with the other game being the first game of the Winthrop series where High Point also held the Eagles to just four points in the fourth quarter, the fewest allowed in any quarter all season.
HPU kept the pressure on in the second, scoring 27 points in the quarter to take a 49-25 lead into halftime. After giving up a three on the opening possession of the second the Panthers went on a 10-3 run, getting triples from Callie Scheier and Jenson Edwards along with buckets in the paint from Jenson and Curran to make it a 20-point game again at 32-12.
The Bucs got on the board once more but High Point scored nine of the next 11 to run the lead to 25 on another triple from Johnson for the largest lead of the half with just over four minutes left before the break. Charleston Southern then scored a couple in a row but a three from Courtney Meadows ran the lead back up to 25 before a free throw from the hosts with 33 seconds left dropped it to 24 at the half.
High Point wasn’t as dominant in the third quarter as it was in the first half and was outscored by Charleston Southern in the quarter, 24-19. The lead hovered just over the 20-point mark as the teams traded chances before Curran hit a pair of three-pointers to give the Panthers their largest lead of the day at 27 points, 59-32, midway through the quarter. The Buccaneers fought back in the second half of the quarter and ended the third on a 10-4 run, including the final six points of the third, to make it a 19-point game at 68-49 heading into the fourth.
Charleston Southern cut the lead to as little as 16 in the first three minutes of the quarter but High Point countered with a 13-2 stretch to push the lead back up to 27 again at 86-59 with just under two minutes remaining thanks to a three-point play from Meadows. High Point’s defense only allowed two more field goals and got two points on offense thanks to a pair of free throws from Simmons to come away with an 88-65 victory.
High Point and Charleston Southern will meet again tomorrow evening (Feb. 6) at 6 p.m. to close out the South Carolina portion of HPU’s schedule. The Panthers’ next schedule opponent is Radford, with the two-game road series slated for next Friday (Feb. 12) and Saturday (Feb. 13). Both games are scheduled to tip at 2 p.m.