• With the victory, the Panthers moved into a tie for first place in the Big South with a 5-1 league record
• HPU assisted on its first 15 baskets to start the game and finished with 18 assists on 20 made field goals
• The Panthers had four players in double figures; senior Devante Wallace led HPU with a 16-point effort (4-7 3pt FG)
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team’s moved into a tie for first place in the Big South after disposing of visiting Longwood by the score of 72-67 on Monday evening inside the Millis Center.
With the victory, HPU moved to 14-4 (5-1 Big South) and the Panthers are now tied with Coastal Carolina for first place in the league standings. HPU earned the victory in front of a sellout crowd in a contest broadcast nationally on ESPN3.
The Panthers led by 16 at halftime, but Longwood (6-14, 2-5) shot 50 percent (6-12) from 3-point territory in the second half to climb within four (62-58) with less than four minutes to play. At that point, HPU got a big 3-pointer from senior Devante Wallace with 1:14 to play to make it 65-58, and Longwood could not move closer than five for the remainder of the game.
Wallace finished with a team-high 16 points, seven rebounds and knocked down 4-of-7 3-point field goals in the game. Wallace was one of four Panthers to post at least 14 points. Junior Lorenzo Cugini chipped in 15 points and knocked down 6-of-9 field goals, while junior guard Adam Weary added 15 points and made 8-of-8 free throw attempts in the game. Redshirt-junior forward John Brown posted 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes of action.
“Guys fought through a lot of different things tonight and our team did a good job of pulling the game out and winning,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “We have a lot of things to go back and look at to try and improve. Give Longwood credit because they played very hard. We let down a bit in the second half but guys stepped up and made big plays when we needed it.”
HPU shot 46.2 percent (20-49) in the first half but connected on just 8-of-23 field goal attempts (.348) in the second half. The Panthers held off the Longwood charge by connecting on 23-of-28 free throw attempts (.821), including a 15-of-18 mark (.833) in the second half. The Purple & White are now 12-1 when the team shoots 70 percent or better from the free throw line.
LWU held a 32-14 edge in points in the paint, but HPU was +6 (18-12) in assists and assisted on a remarkable 15-of-15 made field goals to start the game. HPU finished with 18 assists on 20 made baskets.
HPU was +7 (38-31) on the glass and the Panthers are now 11-0 when they out-rebound their opponent this season.
The Purple & White scored 12 of the first 16 points of the game and led 20-8 after a jumper from Brown at the 11:30 mark of the first half. Longwood used a 6-1 run to move within seven (21-14) and cut it to six (24-18), but HPU surged back with a 14-2 run to extend the lead to 18 (38-20). The sequence included a power slam from Brown off a great pass from sophomore guard Jorge Perez-Laham.
HPU lead 38-22 after limiting Longwood to just 26.9 percent (7-26) in the half (1-10 3pt FG). The Panthers shot 46.2 percent (12-26) and made 6-of-13 3-point field goals (.462) in the stanza and Wallace led HPU with nine first half points (2-3 3pt FG). The Panthers assisted on all 12 made field goals in the half.
The Panthers extended their edge to 44-26 early in the second half, but Longwood responded with a 14-1 run to cut the HPU lead to five (45-40) with 14:21 to play. The Panthers answered back with six-straight points to go back up by 12 (55-43). From there, Longwood continued to chip away at the Panther lead, using an 11-3 run to cut it to four (60-56) with 5:21 to play.
But Longwood could not move closer over the final five minutes and the big 3-pointer from Wallace effectively sealed the deal at 65-58 with 1:14 to go.
“We’ll look at the film and get better at little things,” Cherry said. “We want to have teaching points and things to learn from. We’re certainly not at our peak but we don’t want to be. It’s January 19th and we want to be at our peak at the end of February. We need to continue to get better and improve in a number of areas moving forward.”
HPU now hits the road to play at Radford on Thursday (Jan. 22). The game will tip at 7 p.m., with pre-game coverage on the High Point Panthers Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.