ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team led most of the first half, but a run early in the second lifted UNC Asheville to a 69-58 win over HPU on Saturday afternoon at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C. Redshirt-senior Corey Law led HPU with 13 points and seven rebounds.
“I thought we played well enough in the first half but we just weren’t as good defensively in the second half,” said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. “We were still right in it, 62-58 on the road, we just needed to make a few more plays and not give up some easy shots in the second half. If we played half as well defensively in the second half as we played in the first I think we would have won.”
The 13 points were a season high for Law. Three freshmen came in at double-digits for the Panthers: Lorenzo Cugini scored 11 points and John Brown and Adam Weary each scored 10. Brown also grabbed seven rebounds and Weary dished a game-high five assists.
UNC Asheville’s Will Weeks went off for 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor and 7-for-10 shooting from the line. He scored 14 points and shot 5-for-5 from the floor in the second half. Forward Jeremy Atkinson scored 17 points. Both Weeks and Atkinson had eight rebounds.
High Point fell to 9-10 overall and 4-3 in the Big South. UNC Asheville improved to 11-10 overall and 5-2 in league play.
After UNC Asheville took a quick lead to start the game, the Panthers came back and tied it, 8-8, when Law stole the ball and went in for a two-handed dunk with 13:51 remaining. The Panthers took their first lead, 12-10, a minute later when Cugini shot-faked, then went in for a short-range jumper that rattled in.
A Dejuan McGaughy three-pointer made it 17-14, starting an 8-0 run that gave the Panthers the lead for the rest of the half. Asheville’s Weeks broke the run, but the Panthers struck back when Cugini threaded a pass to Brown for a layup. The Bulldogs kept coming with a 10-4 run to finish the half. Atkinson nailed a buzzer beater off the glass from beyond midcourt to cut HPU’s lead to two (28-26) at halftime.
Asheville got the ball to start the second half and made it count when redshirt-junior D.J. Cunningham turned in the paint and hit a short jumper over Chaney’s outstretched hand. The Bulldogs took the lead three minutes later and never relinquished it. A three-point play by Jaleel Roberts tied the game at 36-36 with 16:31 remaining and that was followed by three more baskets. The 9-0 run was capped by another dunk by Roberts that made it 43-36.
Cugini finally broke the run with a layup under the basket. A three-pointer by Cugini followed by a free throw from Law got High Point back within two (44-42) with 12:33 to go. Asheville’s Keith Hornsby nailed an open three on the next possession to make it 47-42 and the Bulldogs’ lead grew as high as 10 points twice before the Panthers were able to chip it back to four.
Down 58-48, HPU’s Brown had three defenders on him and passed down low to Cugini for a layup that started a 6-1 run. Law hit a pair of free throws and had another dunk that made it 59-54. Following another Hornsby trey, Law hit a second-chance layup and Weary went into the lane for a jumper to make it 62-58. Brown drew a charge from Asheville’s Weeks to get the ball back but the Panthers couldn’t score on their next three possessions in the eventual 69-58 loss.
Asheville shot 33.3 percent from the floor in the first half and 61.9 percent in the second half. The Panthers’ shooting was roughly even and ended up 43.1 percent for the game. HPU forced 10 turnovers in the first half and three in the second half.
The Panthers are back in action on Wednesday when they host Longwood in the schools’ first-ever Big South matchup at 7 p.m. at the Millis Center. High Point is 13-6 all-time against the Lancers.