• Junior Lorenzo Cugini led HPU with a career-high 24 points and knocked down 6-of-7 (.857) 3-point attempts
• The Panthers were +13 (34-21) on the glass for the second-straight game
• With the win, HPU improves to 12-4 for the first time since the 1993-94 season
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Junior forward Lorenzo Cugini notched a career-best 24 points to lead the High Point University men’s basketball team to a 69-62 win over Campbell on Saturday evening inside the Millis Center.
The victory improved High Point to 12-4 for the first time since the 1993-94 season. HPU is 3-1 in Big South play and has won three-straight league games and six of seven games overall. Campbell fell to 7-9 (1-2 Big South).
Cugini knocked down a career-best six 3-pointers on seven attempts (.857) and finished 9-of-13 from the field overall while grabbing six rebounds in 33 minutes on the floor. Cugini is shooting 68.8 percent (11-16) from 3-point land in league play and averaging 13.5 points per contest.
The Akron, Ohio, native was joined in double figures by redshirt-junior John Brown, who tallied 13 points (7-8 FT), nine rebounds (five offensive) and tied his career high with five steals in the game.
The Panthers shot just 38.5 percent (20-52) from the field, but made up for it with another solid performance from the free throw line, knocking down 23-of-27 attempts (.852). The Panthers also crashed the glass, holding a double-digit rebounding advantage for the second-straight game. HPU was +13 (34-21) on the boards and held a 14-1 edge in offensive rebounds for the game. Those offensive boards led to a 16-0 edge in second chance points.
The Purple & White are now 10-0 when they out-rebound their opponent this season and 10-1 when they shoot 70 percent or better from the free throw line.
“Every time we play Campbell it’s a battle,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “To play them with only one day to prepare after playing Thursday night, I thought our guys did a great job. It’s tough to play against that style and defend for as long as you have to defend in the half court. On the offensive end, it’s tough to get anything near the basket. But our guys stepped up and made big plays. [Lorenzo] was on fire tonight. He had a great scoring game. He also rebounded the ball well and was great on the defensive end.”
Junior Adam Weary added 13 points (4-7 FG), a season-high seven rebounds and made 5-of-6 free throws in the game. Sophomore guard Anthony Lindauer chipped in nine points and made 5-of-5 free throws in 10 minutes off the bench.
The Panther defense forced pressure on Campbell all night long. HPU made 11 steals in the game and forced 14 Camel turnovers that led to a 19-11 edge for the Panthers in points off turnovers. HPU also held a 25-18 edge in bench scoring and was +7 (13-6) in fast break points.
The two teams played to a 10-10 tie before the Panthers used a 5-0 run to move ahead by seven (21-14) at the 9:41 mark of the first half. HPU raced out to the early lead on the strength of fantastic perimeter defense that lead to seven steals over the first 10 minutes of action. A 3-pointer from Cugini kept the lead at seven (28-21), but Campbell responded with a 10-0 run to move ahead 31-28 with 1:09 to play in the half. But from there, Cugini hit his fourth 3-pointer of the period and Weary laid in a runner as time expired in the period to propel the Panthers into halftime ahead, 33-31.
HPU shot just 39.3 percent to Campbell’s 58.5 percent in the half, but the Panthers took the lead due to a defense that forced 10 turnovers. The Purple & White held a 10-1 lead on points off turnovers in the half. Cugini tied his season-high at intermission with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting (4-4 3pt FG).
The Panthers scored seven of the first eight points of the half to go up 40-33, but the Camels responded with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the score at 40-40 at the 14:24 mark of the second half. Four-straight points from Lindauer helped HPU reclaim a six-point lead at 46-40, but the Camels answered right back with an 8-0 run to take a two-point lead (48-46) with 10:42 to go in the game.
Campbell moved ahead by three (54-51) with 7:32 to play, but HPU put together a decisive 7-1 run over the next three minutes to take a six-point lead (61-55) it would not relinquish. The sequence included a triple from Cugini and four-straight points from Weary.
Campbell fought back with five-straight points to cut the Panther lead to one (61-60), but HPU got two free throws from Brown and a lay-in from Weary on the next possession to give HPU a 65-50 advantage with 42 seconds remaining. The Panthers would hang on for the 69-62 win.
With the seven-point victory, the Panthers are now 7-1 in games decided by less than 10 points this season.
HPU now hits the road to take on Gardner-Webb (11-6, 3-1) on Wednesday, January 14 at 7 p.m. in Boiling Springs, N.C. The game will air live on the Big South Network, with pre-game coverage on the High Point Panthers Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.