HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team led by as many as 12 points in the first half but James Madison came out with a dominating effort in the second half to get an 84-69 win over HPU on Saturday night at the Millis Center. Redshirt-freshman John Brown led the Panthers with 17 points and four steals.
“I’m challenging my team right now, we’ve got to figure out what this team is made of,” said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. “To come out and play great in the first half and then play the way we did in the second half is frustrating. We have a really young team right now and these guys have got to learn the effort and intensity that we need to play with each possession, especially on defense. We’ve got a good basketball team, the guys just need to believe in it and play with that type of effort.”
Brown was limited by foul trouble in the game but was flanked by three other double-digit scorers. Sophomore Lorenzo Cugini scored 14 points and tied his career high with five assists. Junior Devante Wallace scored 10 points with a team-high six rebounds and senior Derrell Edwards scored 10 points.
James Madison sophomore Charles Cooke led all scorers with 25 points and graduate student Andrey Semenov scored 16 points, including three three-pointers in the second half. The Dukes went 14-for-24 (58.3 percent) from the floor in the second half, including 6-for-10 (60.0 percent) from beyond the arc. They outrebounded HPU, 19-11, on the defensive glass in the second half.
High Point fell to 3-5 while James Madison improved to James Madison 3-8.
High Point never trailed in the first half starting with a tip-in by Cugini to begin the game. The Panthers used a 13-4 run that included three treys to make it 20-8 with 12:46 on the clock. JMU’s Cooke got his team back in it, starting a 14-2 run with a three-pointer, then intercepting a pass and returning it for a dunk. The Dukes tied the game at 22-22 when Ivan Lukic hit a free throw.
High Point turned the tables again with Cugini hitting his second three-pointer to ignite a 16-4 run. After freshman Jorge Perez-Laham slashed for a layup that made it 40-28, James Madison scored the last seven points of the half. It was finished a three-pointer by Cooke in the closing seconds that made it 40-35.
That run kept going into the second half as James Madison scored the first five points and got their first lead of the game when Semenov hit a three-pointer to make it 46-44. The 22-5 run spanning both halves made it 50-45 on a short-range jumper by JMU freshman Jackson Kent.
High Point kept the game close over the next six minutes but James Madison was able to counter any momentum generated by the Panthers. When Wallace hit a layup to make it 59-54, JMU got a three-pointer by Semenov and a layup from Lukic to make it double digits again. High Point got within six (64-58) on a layup by Brown before James Madison’s Tom Vodanovich hit a wide-open three-pointer. Kent hit a three-pointer to give the Dukes a 74-62 lead with just under five minutes to go and they led by double digits the rest of the way.
James Madison outscored HPU, 49-29, in the second half, holding High Point to 31.3 percent from the floor after the Panthers had shot 50.0 percent in the first half. A positive for the Panthers was ball handling: HPU had 19 assists with just five turnovers.
The Panthers journey north next week as they take on Morgan State on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Baltimore, Md., and then take on No. 2 Syracuse on Friday at 7 p.m. in Syracuse, N.Y.