HPU WBB Travels To VCU For Thursday Morning Contest

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team went 4-0 during its home stand, but will hit the road to take on VCU in Richmond, Va. on Thursday at 11 a.m.

The Panthers defeated Elon, Presbyterian, Longwood and UNCG in four straight home games before taking a 10-day break to focus on finals. The winning steak moved the team’s overall record to 6-3 and 2-0 in Big South play. But now the Panthers must leave the friendly confines of the Millis Center for the next four games beginning on Thursday and extending until their Jan. 5 game against Campbell.

Last Time Out:
The Panthers fell behind by as many as 15 in the first half to UNCG, but outscored the visiting Spartans 55-29 over the final 22 minutes to earn a 78-67 win on Dec. 8. Once again, redshirt-senior Stacia Robertson led the way stuffing the stat sheet with 23 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, three assists and two steals.

Meanwhile, sophomore DeAnneisha Jackson chipped in with 16 points – 14 of which came in the second half. Sophomore Kaylah Keys scored 12 points and senior Latrice Phelps gave the Panthers four in double figures with 10 points and a game-high five assists. Senior Ashante Richard just missed her first double-digit outing of the year posting nine points, all in the final 2:30, to go with a season-high eight rebounds.

HPU shot 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) from the floor and hit 15-of-20 from the line in the second half. On the other hand, the Panthers held the Spartans to 26 percent and just eight free throw attempts as they pulled away late.

The Purple & White were able to find a way to win despite being outrebounded (42-41), losing the turnover battle (22-16) and only making two 3-pointers on eight tries. HPU was averaging nine made 3’s per contest during the home stand while shooting 38 percent, but showed it could win without relying on the 3-ball against UNCG.

The Opponent:
The Rams are also coming off a victory over the UNCG Spartans after earning an 80-73 home win over UNCG on Sunday. The win moved VCU to 5-4 on the year and 3-0 at home.

Balance is key for the offense, as the Rams have six players that average between 7.4 and 9.8 points per game. Sophomore Ashley Pegram leads the team in scoring at 9.8 a game and another sophomore Keira Robinson is sixth with 7.4 after leading the squad with 19 against UNCG. Sophomore wing Camille Calhoun leads VCU with 7.1 rebounds per game while Robinson paces the team with 2.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

The Rams use their depth with nine players that average over 14 minutes of action each game. That allows them to play fast and get 64 shots up a night, with 17 of those shots coming from outside the arc. However, VCU is only shooting 35.6 percent from the floor and 34 percent from deep on the year. The team’s top marksman is sophomore Monnazjea Finney-Smith, who has knocked down 19 triples in 50 tries (38 percent).

VCU and HPU have played three common opponents thus far with both teams beating Presbyterian and UNCG at home. HPU defeated William & Mary 87-80 in OT at home while the Rams lost to the Tribe 56-48 in Williamsburg, Va. The Panthers are also the third Big South opponent for VCU this season. The Rams beat the Blue Hose, but lost 69-53 at Liberty in mid-November.

Panther Notes:
• Redshirt-senior Stacia Robertson has won back-to-back Big South Conference Player of the Week awards – the first Panther ever to win two weeks in a row. She’s averaging 14.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 5.3 blocks, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals over the last three games.
• Sophomore Kaylah Keys has scored in double figures in seven straight games and in eight of the team’s nine games this season.
• Keys and Robertson combine to average 32.7 points per game, the most of any duo in the Big South. Keys leads the league in scoring with 17.1 per game and Robertson is third with 15.6 a night.

• The Panthers are second in the Big South in scoring averaging 72.7 points per game and are on pace to break the Div. I era record of 72.5, which was set last season.

• Forwards Stacia Robertson and DeAnneisha Jackson have formed a swat team for HPU with 3.6 and 1.2 blocks per game, respectively. As a team, the Panthers are 12th in the nation with 6.0 blocked shots per contest. West Virginia leads the nation with 7.3/game.

Next Up:

The Panthers will travel to Nebraska to take on the No. 12 Cornhuskers on Saturday at 4 p.m. before taking 10 days off for the holidays before conference play picks back up at Coastal Carolina on Dec. 30.