HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team returns home to host the Winthrop Eagles on Saturday at 2 p.m. inside the Millis Center.
This is the first meeting between the Panthers (9-6, 5-1) and the Eagles (8-6, 4-1) since the 2014 Big South Tournament title game when Winthrop bested HPU 87-74. Besides revenge, HPU will be looking to continue its best start in Big South play since opening the 2011-12 conference season 9-0.
Last Time Out:
The Panthers used multiple extended runs to pull away from Charleston Southern and earn a 77-44 win on Thursday night in the Buc Dome. The Purple & White was led by a strong showing from its senior class and especially redshirt-senior Stacia Robertson.
The forward poured in 24 points on 8-of-8 shooting while also posting six rebounds, five blocks, four steals and four assists. HPU held an 11-point halftime lead, but ran away early in the second half as Robertson scored 11 points while adding two blocks and two steals in the first four minutes of the second frame.
Senior Latrice Phelps just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds while redshirt-senior Lindsay Puckett made it three Panthers scoring in double figures with 10 points. Senior Ashante Richard rounded out the stellar performance by the four senior starters with eight points (4-of-4 shooting) and a game-high five assists. All in all, the seniors scored 53 of the team’s 77 points in the contest.
Sophomores Kaylah Keys and Maja Michalska each chipped in with seven apiece as HPU shot 52.5 percent (32-of-61) from the floor. The Panthers’ defense held the Bucs without a field goal for a nine-minute stretch in the first half and limited them to 13-of-51 (25 percent) shooting in the game. The Purple & White defense also caused 20 CSU turnovers and earned a +13 advantage in the rebounding battle.
Winthrop is also coming off of an impressive Big South victory as the Eagles earned a 75-55 win at home against UNC Asheville on Thursday night in Rock Hill, S.C. Winthrop was led by its lethal 1-2 punch of sophomore wing Erica Williams and junior forward Schaquilla Nunn. Williams finished the game with 22 points and eight rebounds while Nunn posted a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Slowing the combination of Williams and Nunn will be key for the Panthers on Saturday. Williams is the leading scorer in the Big South averaging 16.0 points per contest to go with 8.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Meanwhile, Nunn has been dominant inside with 13.8 ppg and leads the conference with 11.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per night. Redshirt-senior Samiya Wright gives the Eagles three players scoring in double figures with 10.0 ppg.
Winthrop is only shooting 31.9 percent from 3-point land; however, HPU can’t let Wright get open looks as she is knocking down 45.8 percent of her looks from beyond the arc. Despite their struggles in 3-point shooting, the Eagles are shooting over 47 percent from the floor in Big South play and have outscored their conference foes by an average of 14 points per contest.
The Panthers will look to use their depth as an advantage as the Eagles have four players averaging over 30 minutes per game and only six that play more than 10 minutes an outing.
• High Point is 38-11 (.775) in the Millis Center since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Panthers went 11-3 at home last season and currently have a 12-game home winning streak stretching back to last season, which is tied for the second longest in the program’s Div. 1 history. The record is a 19-game streak from Jan. ‘05 – Feb. ‘06 and a win today would move these Panthers past the 12-game streak from Dec. ‘06 – Dec. ‘07.
• Kaylah Keys and Stacia Robertson form the highest-scoring tandem in the Big South. The inside-outside duo is averaging 30.5 points a game. Robertson is second in the league with 15.4 ppg while Keys is third with 15.1. Winthrop boasts the No. 1 scorer in Erica Williams with 16.0 ppg while Schaquilla Nunn is No. 6 with 13.8.
• Stacia Robertson has been playing on another level of late. The forward entered last weekend as the only player in the nation averaging 10 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three steals per game. She has fallen off that pace, but is still posting 15.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 2.9 steals and 2.6 assists per outing.
• Redshirt-senior Stacia Robertson is closing in on 1,000 points in her HPU career. The forward scored 24 points against CSU and now has 984 points through two and a half seasons with the Panthers. Robertson is looking to become the 18th Panther to reach the 1,000-point plateau and the eighth in the Div. I era.
• HPU’s offense is shooting at a record pace this season. The team comes into this matchup hitting 42.7 percent of its shots after a solid 32-of-61 (52.5 percent) performance at Charleston Southern. The team is 0.9 percent ahead of Coastal Carolina for the Big South lead, which puts it on pace to beat a program record 41.3 from the 2010-11 season.
• The Panthers lead the all-time series with the Eagles by a 22-19 margin. HPU and Winthrop split their regular season matchups and Winthrop earned the Big South Tournament crown in a win over the HPU. Head coach DeUnna Hendrix is 2-3 against the Eagles in her career.
HPU will be back on the road at UNC Asheville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Panthers lead the all-time series with UNCA 33-11 and have won 12 consecutive games over the Bulldogs.