• With the win, HPU improves to 8-2 in Big South play for the first time in program history and 17-5 overall for the first time since 1995-96
• High Point now holds a 1.5-game lead for first place atop the Big South standings
• Senior Devante Wallace led HPU with 19 points and made 5-of-7 3-point attempts on the night.
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University men’s basketball team put together a spectacular second half Thursday night in the Vines Center en route to a historic 72-53 victory over Liberty.
The win moved HPU to 8-2 in Big South play for the first time in program history and 17-5 overall for the first time since 1995-96. At 8-2, HPU holds a 1.5-game lead for first place in the Big South standings. HPU has won 11 of its last 13 games overall and 20 of its last 24 Big South contests.
HPU shot 52.4 percent (11-21) in the second half and made a sizzling 77.8 percent (7-9) of its 3-point attempts in the period. The Panthers used a 16-1 run to pull away midway through the second half and led by as many as 29 (69-40) with under four minutes to play.
HPU’s 11 3-pointers in the game (11-18, .611) were the most by the Panthers since the Purple & White hit 12 in the NIT last season against Minnesota on March 18, 2014.
“This was a good team win and a good road win,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “We relaxed a bit in the second half and did the things necessary to win. To hold Liberty to 40 points with less than three minutes to go was just a tremendous defensive effort from our guys. [To be 17-5] feels good. It’s great for our program and our University and it’s what we’ve been building toward as a team.”
The victory was HPU’s third-straight and moved the Panthers to 7-4 in road games this season, including a 4-1 road mark in Big South play. HPU has held its opponents to less than 55 points in each of the games during the three-game winning streak.
The Purple & White held Liberty to 43.1 percent shooting (22-51) in the game, including a meager 26.3 percent (5-19) mark from 3-point territory.
The Panthers put forth another balanced effort on the offensive end, led by senior guard Devante Wallace who posted 19 points and connected on 5-of-7 3-point attempts. Junior Adam Weary added 17 points (6-11 FG) and two steals while sophomore Jorge Perez-Laham tied his career-high with three 3-pointers en route to a 12-point effort. Perez-Laham went 3-of-3 from deep and tallied two assists and two steals in season-high 28 minutes.
Redshirt-junior John Brown chipped in seven points in 23 minutes against LU. With his seventh point, Brown moved into 10th place on the HPU all-time scoring list.
HPU led 9-2 early and built a 14-point lead (20-6) on the strength of an 11-0 run midway through the first half. The end of the sequence included two-straight put back lay-ins from Brown. Liberty responded with an 11-0 run to move back within three (20-17) at the 6:17 mark of the half, but HPU answered with a 7-2 run to go back up eight (29-21). The Panthers took a 33-26 lead into the half.
Both teams shot 46 percent from the field in the half, but HPU was 4-of-9 (.444) from 3-point territory, while LU was just 1-of-5 (.200). Weary led the Panthers with 11 first-half points.
The two teams traded baskets for the first four minutes of the second half before the Panthers exploded for the 16-1 run to move ahead by 22 (55-33) with 8:46 to play in the game. The sequence included a 3-pointer and strong take to the bucket from Perez-Laham and a pair of triples from Wallace.
After HPU extended the lead to 29 (69-40) with 3:31 to go, Liberty could not move closer than 19 for the remainder of the game.
HPU’s victory was its second-straight at Liberty and third-in-a-row overall against the Flames.
High Point now returns home to host Radford on Tuesday (Feb. 3) at 7 p.m. inside the Millis Center. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3, with streaming audio on the High Point Panthers Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.