HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team was unable to maintain a double-digit lead against Morgan State on Saturday night, falling to the Bears by a score 75-68 at the Millis Center. Redshirt-freshman John Brown led HPU with 24 points in the loss.
“We played well for 30 minutes but we didn’t play with the same intensity in the last 10 minutes,” said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. “Morgan State has a big, physical team and a lot of those guys have played in NCAA Tournaments. They aren’t going to give up. This is something we can learn from, we haven’t accomplished our goals yet. We want to be playing well at the end of the season going into the conference tournament.”
Graduate student Allan Chaney scored 16 points including 12 in the second half and tied for the team lead with nine rebounds along with senior Branimir Mikulic. Sophomore Devante Wallace and freshman Lorenzo Cugini both came off the bench to score eight points a piece.
Junior wing Justin Black led Morgan State with 20 points. Point guard Blake Bozeman chipped in with 13 points and 12 rebounds, including three three-pointers during Morgan State’s comeback run.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Panthers. High Point fell to 16-11 overall and Morgan State improved to 10-14. The Panthers are 11-3 in Big South play with two conference games remaining.
Brown scored High Point’s first six points, including an uncontested 360-dunk to put HPU up 6-1 with 17:42 left in the first half. After Morgan State tied the game at 8-8, Wallace connected on back-to-back three pointers to put the Panthers up by six.
Morgan State continued to challenge, tying the game four times in a four-minute stretch, before Chaney and Brown connected on back-to-back layups. That allowed High Point build a seven-point lead before Morgan State’s Ian Chiles hit a jumper to make it 34-29 at halftime.
After Morgan State’s Black dunked to start the second half, High Point’s Chaney hit a layup that started a 10-3 run, giving HPU its first double-digit lead, 44-34, with 16:40 left in the game. Dejuan McGaughy scored the last four points on the run. High Point built its lead to 14 (57-43), the Panthers’ largest lead of the game, over the next seven minutes.
With under nine minutes to play, MSU’s Black scored seven points in a row on two layups and a three pointer. That cut the Panthers’ lead in half, making it 57-50 with 7:26 remaining. The outburst started a 20-6 run by Morgan State, which tied the game at 63-63 with just over four minutes to go.
A free throw by McGaughy put HPU up by one before Morgan State’s Chiles hit a jumper with 2:41 left, giving the Bears their first lead of the game (65-64). The Bears went 8-for-9 from the line in the last two minutes and outscored HPU 10-4 down the stretch to pick up the win. They had gone just 9-for-17 from the line in the first 38 minutes of the game.
Morgan State finished with a 41-37 advantage on the boards including 16 offensive rebounds which led to a 24-6 edge in second-chance points.
The Panthers close out their Big South slate next week hosting Radford on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Campbell on Saturday at 4 p.m. High Point has locked up the No. 1 North seed for the Big South Tournament and will play in the quarterfinals on March 7.