HPU WBB drops nail-bitter 82-81 to UNC Asheville

• Junior Kaylah Keys scored 21 point to move past Stacia Robertson for fourth on HPU’s Division I scoring list.
• The Panther’s balanced offense featured five players scoring in double figures.
• High Point is back on the road on Tuesday at Radford for a 7 p.m. tip time.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team jumped out to a big lead early, but couldn’t hold on as UNC Asheville scored a 82-81 win in the Millis Center on Saturday night.

Sophomore Kat Harris posted a tough and-1 with 13 seconds left to knot the score at 81-81. However, Khaila Webb raced down the floor and drew a foul before converting 1-of-2 at the line to seal the victory for the Bulldogs (14-4, 7-2).

“I’m proud of our effort, but we need to be more locked in to the scouting report,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We said from the beginning that the winner of this game would be the one that executed and we didn’t do that well enough. The offense was good again today and that’s never been the issue; we just need to improve our defense and rebounding.”

Junior Kaylah Keys paced the Panthers (6-12, 5-4) with 21 points and five assists. Her 20-point outing was the 23rd of her career and moved her past Stacia Robertson for fourth on the program’s Division I scoring list. The Southaven, Miss. native has now scored 1,286 for her three seasons with HPU.

Keys was joined by four other members of the Purple & White in double figures led by freshman Haleigh Hatfield who tallied her second double-double of her career. The forward grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with 11 points.

Harris (18 points) and freshmen Emma Bockrath (13 points) and Lindsey Edwards (10 points) were the other three Panthers in double digits.

After controlling the glass in the first quarter, the Panthers lost the battle on the boards 38-31 for the game. Offensively, HPU registered a solid 47.6 shooting percentage and hit 16-of-20 free throws. However, the Bulldogs were able to knock down 54 percent of their shots – including seven 3-pointers.

Despite the chilly weather outside, it didn’t take HPU any time at all to heat up offensively as eight first-quarter points from Keys sparked the Panthers to a 23-9 lead (2:06).

However, Asheville caught fire hitting four of its next five 3-point attempts to mount a 24-6 run to take a 33-29 edge with 5:47 left in the half. Later, Bockrath scored four of the next six for HPU as the Panthers knotted the score at 35-all (4:15). Soon after, the home team surged back ahead on four straight free throws from Hatfield and led 44-43 at the break.

Chatori Major opened the second half with two of her game-best 25 points to give Asheville a 45-44 advantage. From there the teams battled back and forth with neither team building a lead larger than five for the rest of the contest. Harris finished the third frame with a driving layup to give HPU a 66-61 lead headed to the fourth.

In the final period, the game remained close throughout as High Point held on to its lead until the 3:20 mark when Major scored to make it 77-76. The Purple & White were able to tie it up at 81-81 on Harris’ 3-point play, but couldn’t get the ball back in the closing seconds for a chance to regain the lead.

The Panthers are back on the road for two games next week as they travel to Radford on Tuesday (7 p.m.) and Liberty on Saturday (2 p.m.).