• Sophomore forward Tarique Thompson led HPU with a game-high 24 points (7-10 FG) and 13 rebounds
• The Panthers forced 20 Piedmont turnovers and held a 26-7 edge in points off turnovers for the game
• HPU opens the regular season Friday (Nov. 14) against Bakersfield at 10 p.m. in Honolulu, Hawai’i
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Behind a breakout performance from sophomore Tarique Thompson, the High Point University men’s basketball team cruised to an 89-66 exhibition victory over Piedmont Saturday evening inside the Millis Center.
Thompson registered a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead HPU with a double-double in 30 minutes of work. The Raeford, N.C., native also made 7-of-10 field goal attempts and was 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
HPU shot 48.2 percent from the field in the game and knocked down 29-of-38 attempts (.763) from the free throw line. Piedmont shot the ball well all night and made 15-of-27 (.556) field goal attempts in the second half. But the Panther defense was active all night and forced 20 turnovers by the Pride while registering nine steals. HPU held a 26-7 edge for points off turnovers in the contest.
“This game is going to be a teaching tool for us – we’ll look at film and evaluate what we can improve on heading into the opener,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “Tarique was big for us and we had guys step up when we needed them in order to win. I think those performances speak to the depth of our team.”
Junior guard Adam Weary chipped in 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Panthers, while junior point guard Haiishen McIntyre added 11 points and made 6-of-6 free throw attempts in 21 minutes of work. Redshirt-senior guard Brian Richardson distributed a team-high five assists and chipped in seven points and six rebounds in his High Point debut.
The Panthers opened the game with a swarming defense that caused four early turnovers. The result was a 10-0 lead that featured fast-break lay-ins from Richardson and Thompson. The Panthers extended their edge to 18-6 on a 3-pointer from senior guard Devante Wallace and led by 16 (29-13) after a lay-in from Thompson at the 11:26 mark of the half.
HPU extended its advantage to 17 (38-21) on a 3-pointer from McIntyre and led by that margin at the half (44-27).
The Panthers shot 42.4 percent in the first half and forced nine turnovers that led to a 12-0 HPU edge in points off turnovers. Thompson led the Panthers with 16 points and 12 rebounds (seven offensive) in the half.
Piedmont came out hot in the second half and used a 13-4 run to cut the HPU edge to seven (51-44) at the 15:06 mark of the frame. From there, the Panthers put together a 6-0 run to go back up 13 (57-44) and used an 8-2 run to move ahead by 16 (68-52) with 8:20 to play.
A 3-pointer from Wallace gave HPU an 88-66 lead with 2:29 to go and a free throw from freshman DeAndre Barber (89-66) gave the Panthers their largest lead of the game as time expired.
HPU now says “Aloha” to the Hawaiian Islands to open the 2014-15 regular season. The Panthers will take part in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic and begin the round-robin event against Bakersfield on Friday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. inside the Stan Sherriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawai’i.
HPU will then play Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 15 at 10 p.m. before taking on host Hawai’i on Nov. 18 at 4:59 a.m. The contest vs. the Rainbow Warriors will be broadcast live on ESPN2 as part of ESPN’s 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.