CONWAY, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team used a phenomenal second-half defensive effort to push past Presbyterian, 67-57, in Big South Tournament quarterfinal action Thursday inside the HTC Center.
The victory sends High Point (19-11) to the Big South semifinals for the second-straight campaign. The Panthers will face off with No. 7 seed Gardner-Webb on Saturday at 8 p.m.
HPU trailed 35-31 early in the second half, but used a 12-0 run midway through the stanza to take control of the game and build a 13-point lead (59-46) it would not relinquish
“PC is a tough team to play because they are very well-coached and disciplined and I’m really excited to get a win and move on,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We were a little tight in the first half with this being our first game in the tournament and came out in the second half ready to go.”
HPU’s balanced offensive effort included four Panthers in double figures. Redshirt-senior forward Stacia Robertson led HPU with 17 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting and added seven rebounds in 32 minutes of work. Redshirt-senior guard Lindsay Puckett added 16 points and connected on four 3-pointers, while senior guard Ashante Richard tied her career high with 14 points and dished out a team-high four assists.
Sophomore guard Kaylah Keys added 10 points and three assists for the Panthers. With her 10th point of the game, Keys became the ninth player in HPU’s Div. I history to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
Senior forward Latrice Phelps tied her season high with 10 rebounds and chipped in seven points (3-6) in 29 minutes for the Purple & White.
HPU held a 34-32 edge on the glass and used a strong perimeter defense to post 12 steals on the night. The dozen thefts led to an 18-11 edge for High Point in second chance points.
The Panthers shot 48.9 percent (23-47) in the game, including a solid 52 percent (13-25) in the deciding second half.
High Point jumped out to a 14-7 lead, but the Blue Hose responded with a 10-4 run to move within one (18-17) at the 10:42 mark of the first half. Puckett’s third triple of the half pushed the lead back to four and another 3-pointer – this time from Keys – extended the Panther edge to six (28-22) with 5:53 to play in the half.
From there, Presbyterian put together an 11-3 run over the final five minutes of the stanza to take a 33-31 lead into the break.
The Blue Hose shot 52 percent in the half (13-25) while the Panthers connected on 10-of-22 (.455) shots. Puckett led the Purple & White with nine first-half points.
Presbyterian registered the first bucket of the second half to make it 35-31, but from there, the Panthers raced back in front on the strength of a 14-2 run. The surge included treys from Keys and sophomore Teddy Vincent as HPU moved ahead 45-37 with 13:43 to play in the game.
Presbyterian cut the lead to three at 47-44, but a jumper from Ashante Richard and two free throws from Puckett fueled a 7-0 HPU run that moved the Panthers back in front 51-44 with 9:32 to play. Puckett hit her fourth 3-pointer to extend the High Point lead to 13 (59-46) and the run to 12-0. The Blue Hose would not move closer than nine (71-62) for the remainder of the game.