High Point Men’s Basketball Tops Lees-McRae

HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team got an 85-78 victory over Lees-McRae on Friday night at the Millis Center in High Point, N.C. Redshirt-sophomore John Brown led the Panthers with 25 points and eight rebounds.

“Our guys fought through after a tough last month to get this win tonight,” said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. “We stayed committed to the game plan. It could have been better. We need to make simple plays, especially in transition, but I’ll take that win. We needed that feeling of success and we’re working hard to get ready for league play. We’re still 0-0 in the Big South.”

Brown shot 9-for-14 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the line and also had three steals and two blocks. Sophomore forward Lorenzo Cugini scored a career-high 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting and junior Devante Wallace scored 13 points with seven rebounds and two blocks off the bench.

Lees-McRae was led by Raul Tutton, who scored 21 points. Senior guard Darius Smith scored 17 points with eight assists and seven rebounds. Mike Chambers also scored 17 points and five rebounds.

High Point improved to 4-8, snapping a seven-game losing streak. Lees-McRae fell to 6-6. The Panthers open Big South play on Wednesday at Campbell.

Down four at halftime, High Point began the second half on a 10-4 run to take its first lead of the game when Dejuan McGaughy hit a layup with 17:48 remaining. The Bobcats hit their next two shots – two three-pointers sandwiching a Cugini jumper – and led 55-51 after Chambers went to the basket for a layup. High Point then went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, eventually stretching it to 10 points (69-59) when Brown slammed a one-handed alley-oop from Devante Wallace (watch here: http://youtu.be/iy6rH5cSDwo).

The Panthers led by 10 again (71-61) when Cugini hit a jumper before Lees-McRae went on a run to tie the game one last time. Darryl Bond hit a trey to get the Bobcats within two with under five minutes to play. After Wallace hit a free throw for HPU, Darius Malbon hit Lees-McRae’s 11th three-pointer to make it 75-75. HPU finished the game on a 10-3 run to get the win.

The Panthers shot 54.5 percent (30-for-55) from the floor and 80.6 percent (25-for-31) from the free-throw line in the game but didn’t hit a three-pointer. It broke a streak of 381 games with a three-pointer dating back to the 2000-01 season for the Panthers. Lees-McRae was buoyed by 45.8 percent (11-for-24) shooting from beyond the arc.

The Panthers begin Big South play next week when they travel to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on Campbell on Wednesday at 7 p.m. High Point hosts Radford on Friday at 7 p.m. in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.