HPU MBB Takes Down Presbyterian, 63-54, in Clinton

• With the victory, HPU improved to 7-2 in Big South play for just the second time in school history
• The Panthers held their opponent to under 55 points for the second-straight game
• Junior forward Lorenzo Cugini posted 15 points (5-7 FG) and three assists to lead the Panthers

CLINTON, S.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team turned on the defense and put forth a balanced offensive effort to push past Presbyterian College on Monday evening inside the Templeton Center.

The victory was HPU’s seventh in its last eight games and improved the Panthers to 16-5 overall. The Panthers are 7-2 in Big South play for just the second time in school history and 6-4 in true road games this season.

“We have an experienced, veteran team of guys that have played significant games in league play where it’s a battle every single night,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “The lineup that played the majority of the second half tonight was made up of veteran guys that helped us win the regular season title a year ago. Our freshman also gave us a great lift tonight. Presbyterian is a talented team, but they’re a young team, and I think the difference was experience tonight.”

The Panthers led by three (31-28) at the half and were ahead by four (54-50) with 2:59 to play in the game. From there, HPU put together a 6-1 run, punctuated by a 3-pointer from junior forward Lorenzo Cugini, that gave the Purple & White a 10-point edge (61-51) with less than a minute to play.

Cugini led all scorers with 15 points (5-7 FG) and connected on 3-of-4 3-point attempts in the game. Redshirt-junior forward John Brown added 13 points and four rebounds, while senior guard Devante Wallace notched 13 points (5-8 FG) and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

Wallace is averaging 20.5 ppg and shooting 66.7 percent (14-21) from the field in HPU’s last two trips to Clinton.

High Point eclipsed the 50 percent shooting mark for the third-straight game with a 52.3 percent (23-44) effort against PC. The Panthers shot 64.7 percent (11-17) in the second half and connected on 6-of-9 (.667) 3-pointers in the stanza. HPU hit 10 3-pointers overall for the third time this season.

After holding Asheville to 39.3 percent shooting Saturday, the Panthers limited Presbyterian (7-15, 3-6) to just a 40.4 (19-47) percent clip, including a paltry 3-of-16 (.188) mark from 3-point territory. The Panthers limited PC’s dual scoring threat of Jordan Downing and DeSean Murray to just 21 points (8-21 FG) after the pair entered the game averaging a combined 35 points per contest. It marked the second-straight contest HPU held its opponent under 55 points.

The Panthers also held a 27-25 edge on the glass and made 15 assists to PC’s five on the night. The Purple & White are now 8-1 when they distribute 15 or more assists this season.

HPU also enjoyed a 22-15 edge in bench scoring and turned 11 Blue Hose turnovers into 18 points.

Presbyterian jumped out to an early 14-10 lead before HPU responded with five straight points to build a 15-14 advantage at the 10:13 mark of the opening half. The teams went back and forth for the next six minutes of action before the Purple & White moved ahead by three (26-23) after two free throws from Brown. HPU extended the edge to six (31-25) on a Brown put-back dunk with 2:26 to go, but PC scored the final three points of the period to cut the Panther lead to 31-28 at the break.

The Panthers shot 44.4 percent (12-27) in the stanza and held PC to a 37.5 percent clip (9-24). Brown led HPU with 10 points (4-7 FG) In the half.

The Blue Hose tied the game at 34-34 early in the second half before HPU responded with a 6-0 run to build a 40-34 lead with 13:07 to play in the game. The Panthers held PC without a field goal for close to five minutes during the excellent defensive stretch.

A 3-pointer from Anthony Lindauer put HPU up 43-36, but PC cut the lead to three (47-44) on a lay-in from Davon Bell with 8:17 to play. The Panthers answered with a 5-0 spurt, including a 3-pointer from Cugini, to extend the lead to eight (54-46) with 4:45 to play.

PC cut it to four (54-50) at the three minute mark, but 3-pointers from Wallace and Cugini iced the game for HPU.

With the victory, HPU improved to 9-2 in its last 11 games against the Blue Hose.

The Panthers remain on the road for the first of three-straight contests on the ESPN Family of Networks. HPU will play at Liberty on Thursday (Jan. 29) at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.