• Redshirt-junior John Brown posted a double-double with 33 points and 10 rebounds.
• Senior Devante Wallace and sophomore Anthony Lindauer each added eight points in the contest.
• High Point will now wait to find out their postseason fate.
CONWAY, S.C.- The High Point University men’s basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion, 72-71, in overtime to seventh-seeded Gardner-Webb on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Championships.
High Point led 70-69 with 28.1 seconds remaining in the extra session after a John Brown layup gave the Panthers their first lead of overtime. However, Gardner-Webb’s Jerome Hill converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 18 seconds left to put the Runnin’ Bulldogs ahead 72-70.
Brown was fouled while attempting a shot with 6.6 seconds to go, but missed the first free throw before making the second. Gardner-Webb’s Harold McBride was fouled with 4.6 seconds left and missed both free throws. HPU grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball ahead to senior Devante Wallace, whose three-point attempt at the buzzer clanged off the rim, giving Gardner-Webb the victory.
“This was a tale of two halves,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “We did really well in the first half to open up the lead, but from there it was a struggle. We just didn’t make enough plays to win today, unfortunately.”
With the loss, High Point falls to 22-9 while Gardner-Webb improves to 20-13 and advances to the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
As evidenced by the slim margin, the game was extremely even. Both teams shot 41 percent from the floor, but High Point made seven three’s (39 percent) while holding Gardner-Webb to four trifectas (19 percent).
HPU had the edge in rebounding (42-36) and second chance points (12-11) but GWU topped the Panthers in points off turnovers (13-8), bench points (27-20) and paint points (38-30).
Brown was the lone player in double figures for High Point, dropping 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the floor and 11-of-13 from the line. The first team All-Big South selection added 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Wallace and sophomore Anthony Lindauer added eight points a piece for HPU.
McBride, who poured in 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, led Gardner-Webb. Hill added 19 points and 14 rebounds while Tyrell Nelson contributed 17 points before fouling out in the final minute of regulation.
HPU broke open an early stalemate with an 8-0 run including three’s from junior Haiishen McIntyre and Lindauer to go on top 17-8 (11:26). Lindauer scored High Point’s next five points as well to push HPU ahead 22-12 (10:02).
The lead grew as large as 13 in the first half on a jumper from sophomore Tarique Thompson with 4:21 left that made it 32-19. However, Gardner-Webb got back-to-back three’s and a three-point play to cut the lead to 32-28 (2:16). After Thompson’s spinning layup, Hill scored the final four points of half to bring the Runnin’ Bulldogs to within two at 34-32.
High Point extended the lead to five on the first possession of the second half with a three from Wallace, but was unable to create further separation. Gardner-Webb used a 10-0 run to take a five-point lead at 46-41 (13:23) on a three from McBride.
GWU extended their advantage to nine at 54-45 on a Hill jumper with 8:40 left. To that point, the Runnin’ Bulldogs had scored on 14 of their first 20 second half possessions.
The Panthers, though, began to get stops, using a 7-0 run over a three-minute span to knot the game at 57 on a jumper by sophomore Jorge Perez-Laham before taking the lead less than a minute later on a Wallace tip-in.
With the game tied at 61, Gardner-Webb executed an alley-oop to Nelson on an out-of-bounds play to take the lead with 1:21 left. Brown was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to knot the game at 63-all. Gardner-Webb missed a jumper, but got the offensive rebound with 30 seconds left. Tyler Strange, then, missed a floater at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Gardner-Webb jumped out on top by five (69-64) in OT on a McBride three with 2:58 left. However, Brown continued to carry the Panthers, scoring the final 10 points of the game for HPU, including all eight in overtime. He hit three straight shots to give HPU a one-point lead with less than 30 seconds left before Gardner-Webb pulled out the victory.
The Panthers will now await their postseason fate, with a possible destination in the NIT, CBI, or CIT.