HPU Men’s Basketball Posts 66-63 Comeback Win vs. William & Mary

• HPU used a 26-6 second-half run to erase a 15-point second half deficit and rally to defeat the Tribe
• Redshirt-junior forward John Brown tallied 21 points, nine rebounds and a season-high five blocks
• Redshirt-senior Brian Richardson scored all 12 of his points in the second half to spark the HPU rally

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team used a 26-6 run to erase a 15-point second half deficit en route to a 66-63 win over William & Mary Saturday evening inside the Millis Center.

After leading 28-27 at halftime, the Tribe (5-3) opened the second half on a 14-0 run to build a 42-27 advantage with 16:55 to play. But HPU raced back with the key 26-6 run to take a 53-48 lead it would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. It was High Point’s biggest come-from-behind victory since HPU erased a 21-point deficit to win at Charleston Southern on Jan. 20, 2007.

The win was High Point’s second-straight and moved the Panthers to 6-2 for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

“This was a great win for our program over a very good William & Mary team,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “To go down 15 four minutes into the second half, the way our guys responded was resilient. I give a lot of credit to our players. They got defensive stops and did a great job on [William & Mary star] Marcus Thornton.”

After Thornton posted 37 points in the Tribe’s game at Richmond Wednesday, High Point held the CAA preseason player of the year to just 12 points (3-12 FG), including 0 in the first half.

Redshirt-junior John Brown posted more than 20 points for the third-straight game, finishing with 21 (8-16 FG) to go along with nine rebounds and a season-high five blocks. The Jacksonville, Fla., native also chipped in three assists and two steals in 35 minutes of work.

Redshirt-senior Brian Richardson posted all 12 of his points in the second half, including a baseline drive and jam that kept HPU in front by five with two minutes to play. The Wilson, N.C., native also tallied three assists and four rebounds for the Panthers.

“I just wanted to be a leader,” Richardson said of his second-half performance. “I know this is my last year and I want to go out with a bang. I wanted to get my team back involved. When I hit that three I just knew we were going to win the ballgame. This is a great win for our team.”

Senior guard Devante Wallace added 11 points, four rebounds and two assists, while sophomore forward Tarique Thompson posted nine points and six rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Junior point guard Haiishen McIntyre registered six points and three assists while playing great defense all night long on Thornton.

The Panthers held a 13-7 lead in second-chance points for the game and forced 14 Tribe turnovers that lead to 18 points for the Panthers. HPU also swatted eight shots in the game and made 19-of-24 free throws (.792) after a 28-of-33 performance at UNCG on Monday.

HPU raced out to an early 9-3 lead and led 15-9 after a jumper by Lorenzo Cugini at the 13:34 mark of the first half. The Panthers remained ahead by six (22-16) after a 3-pointer from Wallace, but William & Mary responded with a 10-1 run to build a 26-23 advantage with 3:18 to play in the half. The Tribe led 28-27 at the break.

HPU connected on 12-of-27 (.444) shots in the half but made just 1-of-8 (.125) 3-point attempts. Brown led the Panthers with eight points, four rebounds and two blocks in the stanza.

William & Mary opened the second half on a 14-0 run to go up 42-27 with 16:55 to go in the game. From there, the Panthers put forth a major run of their own to get right back in the game. Bolstered by nine points from Richardson and eight from Brown, the Panthers used a 26-6 run to take a 53-48 lead with less than four minutes to play. The Panthers held the Tribe without a field goal more than six minutes during the stretch and just six total points in 13 minutes of action.

The Tribe cut the HPU lead to three (57-54) with 1:17 to go, but Wallace hit a clutch step-back 3-pointer with 56 seconds left to put the Panthers up 60-54. William & Mary could not move closer than three for the remainder of the game.

The win was HPU’s ninth-in-a-row at home dating back to last season. The Panthers are 22-8 in the Millis Center since the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

HPU now hits the road to take on No. 14/13 Ohio State on Wednesday (Dec. 10) in Columbus. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Value City Arena. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU, with streaming audio featuring “Voice of the Panthers” Evan Lepler also available via highpointpanthers.com.