HPU MBB Muzzles Bulldogs, 72-51, In Raucous Millis

• With the win, HPU stays tied atop the Big South standings; It’s 6-2 start in Big South play is tied for the program’s best
• Redshirt-junior forward John Brown led the Panthers with 15 points and seven rebounds
• The Panthers held UNCA’s Andrew Rowsey – the Big South’s leading scorer (19.6 ppg) – to three points (1-8 FG)

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball (15-5, 6-2) fed off a sensational sellout crowd in the Millis Center Saturday evening en route to a critical 72-51 win over UNC Asheville (9-10, 5-3).

The Panthers blitzed the Bulldogs with an 18-2 run midway through the first half and never looked back, as HPU’s lead never dipped below 12 points in the second stanza.

With the victory, HPU remains tied for first place in the Big South standings. The Panthers are joined by Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern at the top of the league table. HPU’s 6-2 Big South start is tied for its best in program history.

The Panthers shined defensively against the Bulldogs, holding UNCA to 39.3 percent (22-56) shooting for the game. HPU put a full rotation of players on Asheville star Andrew Rowsey and held the Big South’s leading scorer (19.6 ppg) to just three points (1-8 FG) in the game. The Purple & White also enveloped the Bulldogs’ passing lanes and made eight steals while forcing 18 Asheville turnovers.

HPU’s offensive effort was balanced throughout, as six Panthers scored at least six points, while eight players recorded an assist in the game. HPU dished out an impressive 20 assists on 29 field goals while shooting a solid 51.8 percent (29-56) from the field in the game. The Panthers held a 34-24 edge in points in the paint and were +13 in bench scoring (38-25).

Redshirt-junior John Brown led the Panthers with 15 points (6-11 FG) and seven rebounds in an efficient 24 minutes, while junior Lorenzo Cugini added 14 points (5-9 FG) and five rebounds. Brown passed four former Panther greats on HPU’s all-time scoring list Saturday and is now 11th all-time with 1,422 points. That total is third-most in HPU’s Division I era.

Senior guard Devante Wallace chipped in 10 points (4-7 FG), while sophomore Tarique Thompson posted eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. Sophomore Anthony Lindauer added seven points, three rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes while redshirt-senior Brian Richardson dished out a career-best seven assists for HPU.

UNC Asheville jumped out to a 13-8 lead, before HPU answered with a 10-0 run to take an 18-13 advantage at the 8:42 mark of the first half. UNCA cut it to 18-16, but from there, HPU blitzed the Bulldogs with a 18-2 run to build a 36-18 advantage with 1:58 to play in the period. The surge included 3-pointers from Cugini and Wallace.

Asheville closed the half with a pair of 3-pointers as HPU took a 36-24 lead into the break. The Panthers shot 46.7 percent (14-30) in the period and used a suffocating defense to force 12 Asheville turnovers that led to 13 Panther points. Cugini led HPU with 13 points (4-7 FG) in the stanza.

The Panthers kept their foot on the gas pedal and opened the second half on a 15-6 run to move ahead by 23 (53-30) with 13:19 to play. A 3-pointer from Wallace gave HPU its largest lead of the game (56-32) with 12:15 to play and Asheville could not move closer than 18 for the remainder of the game.

The 21-point win over Asheville was HPU’s largest vs. the Bulldogs since the 2006-07 season.

HPU will now play its third game in five days Monday when the Panthers travel to Clinton, S.C., to take on Presbyterian (7-14, 3-5) at 7 p.m.