Keys paces HPU WBB Panthers to 61-47 win over Presbyterian

• Junior Kaylah Keys poured in five three-pointers to post 23 points and surpass the 1,300-point mark in her career.
• Senior Aariel Allen tied a career high with eights rebounds while scoring eight points.
• High Point heads to Coastal Carolina on Tuesday for their final matchup as conference opponents.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Junior Kaylah Keys drilled five three-pointers en route to a 23-point outing to lead the High Point University women’s basketball team to a 61-47 victory over Presbyterian College in the Millis Center on Saturday.

Keys and the Panthers (8-13, 7-5) jumped on the Blue Hose (13-9, 9-4) hitting 70 percent of their first-quarter shots to build an 18-9 lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish. From there, the squad leaned on its defense and rebounding as it held PC to 27.4 percent shooting (17-62) and grabbed a +20 (44-24) margin on the boards.

“I thought we really played with a lot of effort today,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “This is the first time this season that we have played with defensive intensity for 40 minutes. We’ve talked about defense and rebounding every day and it’s really started to sink in.”

Keys’ 23 points pushed her over 1,300 for her career and within four points of Katie O’Dell for third on the program’s Division I scoring list. Freshman Emma Bockrath joined Keys in double figures with 10 points to go along with four assists and four rebounds.

In the paint, senior Aariel Allen recorded eight points and eight rebounds on the afternoon. Meanwhile, freshman Haleigh Hatfield pulled in six boards as six different Panthers earned at least four rebounds.

The Purple & White took advantage of their 19 trips to the charity stripe converting 16 attempts (84 percent). Behind Keys’ 5-of-6 performance the team drilled 50 percent (7-14) from beyond the arc. The defensive intensity and efficiency on offense allowed the Panthers to overcome the 29 turnovers committed in the contest.

After sophomore Kat Harris opened the scoring with a jumper, Keys hit three straight threes to give HPU an 11-4 edge at the 3:24 mark. The Purple & White defense held the Blue Hose to just eight points in the quarter while the offense made 70 percent of its attempts to build an 18-9 lead.

PC chipped away at the deficit to pull within five with 52 seconds remaining in the half (26-21). However, Keys hit her fourth trifecta to send HPU into the locker room with a 29-21 advantage.

The visitors fought back within six points on three occasions in the first five minutes of the third quarter. But a three-pointer from Bockrath sparked an 11-2 run to extend the lead to 47-32 with 1:55 left in the third period.

From there the Panthers outscored the Blue Hose 14-13 in the final frame to earn a 61-47 triumph.

HPU hits the road on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. showdown with Coastal Carolina in the HTC Center.