High Point WBB falls to Gardner-Webb, 79-72

• Freshman Haleigh Hatfield tallied career highs in points (24) and three-pointers (six) to lead the Panthers’ offense.
• Sophomore Kat Harris chipped in with nine points and a game-high six assists.
• High Point is back on the road on Tuesday when it travels to Longwood.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Gardner-Webb used two fourth-quarter runs to earn a 79-72 win over the High Point University women’s basketball team on Saturday in the Millis Center.

Freshman Haleigh Hatfield racked up a career-high 24 points by drilling six three-pointers to pace the Panthers (8-15, 7-7). However, the Runnin’ Bulldogs (16-9, 10-5) shot 50 percent – including a 9-of-14 mark in the fourth quarter – in the victory.

“We gave up 79 points and that’s too many to expect to win,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We have to figure out how to defend at a higher level. I never question our offense, but the defensive aspect of things we haven’t completely figured out, yet.”

Junior Kaylah Keys provided a second double-digit scorer with 13 points to go along with four rebounds. Likewise, sophomore Kat Harris had a solid outing scoring nine points while dishing out a game-best six assists without committing a turnover.

Behind a seven-point, eight-rebound outing from senior Aariel Allen and seven boards from Hatfield, HPU tallied a 40-39 edge on the glass. However, GWU owned the battle in the paint scoring 38 points on the inside compared to 26 for the home team.

The Panthers’ defense created 13 turnovers with 10 steals but couldn’t limit the Runnin’ Bulldogs offense, which hit 31 of their 62 shots. Offensively, the Purple & White pushed the tempo and attempted 74 shots making 29 (39.2 percent) on the night.

Tierra Huntsman opened the scoring with a three-pointer on GWU’s first possession. But the Panthers stormed back scoring the next 14 points to build a 14-3 lead (5:16). With a minute left in the quarter, HPU maintained its 11-point advatnage (25-14) behind eight points from Hatfield and seven from Keys.

After Morgan Ackerman drilled a three-pointer at the end of the first period, GWU tallied the first five points of the second to cut the deficit to three points (25-22, 7:35). However, Hatfield hit her third triple of the half and Bockrath converted a layup to give HPU a seven-point edge with 5:11 left in the half. But once again GWU battled closer to enter the break down 40-38.

The visitors surged ahead after halftime to take a 43-42 advantage three minutes into the third period. However, the lead was short-lived as Hatfield canned her fourth three-pointer to move the Panthers back in front 45-43 (6:56). From there, HPU was able to stay ahead the rest of the quarter and carried a 60-54 edge into the final frame.

In the final period, the Runnin’ Bulldogs surged ahead with an 8-0 run (62-60, 7:33). But the Panthers fought right back as Hatfield and Harris hit critical jumpers to give HPU a 70-67 edge. However, GWU closed the contest on a 12-2 run to get out of the Millis Center with a 79-72 win.

The Purple & White hit the road on Tuesday to take on the Longwood Lancers in Farmville, Va. at 7 p.m.