• Junior Kaylah Keys posted a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting
• Sophomore Kat Harris notched 15 points and hit a career-high five 3-pointers
• The Panthers used an outstanding pressure defense to make 12 steals and force 18 Liberty turnovers
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team (10-16, 9-8) put together an outstanding defensive effort in the second half, but could not push past Liberty Tuesday, falling to the visiting Flames 73-68 inside the Millis Center.
HPU limited Liberty (16-10, 13-4) to just 37 percent shooting in the final stanza and was within three (46-43) late in the third quarter. HPU’s pressure defense gave the Flames fits all night long, as the Purple & White made 12 steals and forced 18 Liberty turnovers. HPU held a 27-11 edge in points off turnovers for the game.
“We played hard. Our kids bought into the game plan, but we didn’t execute and box out when we needed to down the stretch,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We’re still learning and we want to get wins in games like this. We need to figure out those possessions at the end of the game.”
Liberty held a 37-33 lead at the half on the strength of a 64 percent shooting effort (16-25) in the stanza. For the game, the Flames held a +13 (39-26) edge on the glass and were +20 (34-14) in points in the paint.
Junior Kaylah Keys led the Panthers with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. She connected on 3-of-5 3-pointers and grabbed four rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor.
Sophomore Kat Harris added 15 points and hit a career-high five 3-pointers while freshman Emma Bockrath chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Flames jumped out to a 17-10 lead in the first quarter, but HPU ramped up the defense from there, utilizing a 10-0 run – capped by a Bockrath jumper – to grab a 20-17 lead with 1:24 to play in the quarter. HPU led 21-19 at the end of one.
Liberty rallied back to build a six-point edge (30-24) at the 7:08 mark of the second half, but again HPU put together a 5-0 spurt to pull within one (30-29) at the 5:17 mark. HPU trailed by two (33-31) with 2:48 to play in the second quarter, but Liberty took a four-point advantage (37-33) into the half.
Back-to-back triples out of the gate from Harris in the third tied the game up (39-39) at the 7:32 mark of the period. Liberty built the led back out to five (44-39) and led by six (49-43) with 3:36 to play in the third. The Flames led by that margin (55-49) at the end of three.
In the fourth, Liberty extended the edge to eight (62-54) but buckets from Kyrie’ Chandler and Lindsey Edwards moved HPU back within four (62-58) with five minutes to go.
The Flames built the lead back to nine (69-60) with 1:56 left, but HPU would not go away. The Panthers put together a 5-0 spurt to move within four (69-65) with 54 seconds left, but Liberty grabbed a couple key rebounds down the stretch and escaped with the win.
HPU returns to action Saturday (Feb. 27) with a contest at Charleston Southern. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.