HPU WBB Panthers outlasted by Spartans in overtime, 69-67

• Senior Kaylah Keys moved to 15th on the Big South career scoring list with a team-high 14 points on the night.
• Redshirt-sophomore Kennedy Currie made her season debut with six points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two assists.
• Sophomore Emma Bockrath racked up 11 second-half points en route to a 12-point outing.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team battled hard throughout the night, but fell, 69-67, in overtime to UNCG on Friday night in the Millis Center.

The Panthers (2-9) came out hot hitting 6-of-12 first-half three-point attempts en route to a 36-30 halftime lead. However, the Spartans rode Nadine Soliman’s 32 points to a second-half comeback to send the game to overtime.

In the extra five minutes, freshman Carol-Anne Obusek kicked off the scoring with a jumper, but the Purple & White could only manage one other field goal the rest of the way as UNCG earned a 7-5 edge in the period to close out the win.

“Even though nobody is happy with the result, I’m proud of the team’s effort tonight,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We’ve been waiting to see that toughness and grit for over a year from this group and I think we showed that tonight. We had a lot of kids on the floor that haven’t been in situations like tonight and that will pay off in the long run. I think this was a good game to get us ready for conference play and we’ll study it and come back better.”

Despite posting just one point in the first half, sophomore Emma Bockrath racked up 11 points after the break to finish the night with 12 points, six rebounds and two assists.

Meanwhile, senior Kaylah Keys registered 14 points to move past Pam Tolbert (Coastal Carolina) and Ashley Fann (Winthrop) and into 15th on the Big South’s career scoring list.

HPU finished the night with nine three-pointers on 24 attempts (37.5 percent) as UNCG hit 8-of-26 (31 percent). Along with Bockrath, sophomore Haleigh Hatfield accounted for two trifectas while Keys led the way the three.

For the second straight game, Obusek upped her career high with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Likewise, in her first appearance of the season, redshirt-sophomore Kennedy Currie racked up six points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two assists.

Both teams struggled with turnovers committing 42 combined as HPU had 22 and UNCG racked up 20. On the other hand, HPU was credited with 13 steals with three apiece coming from Keys and sophomore Shea Morgan.

On the night, the Purple & White hit 24 of their 66 shots (36 percent) while the visitors shot 38 percent (27-71).

Keys, Hatfield and freshman Camryn Brown all drilled three-pointers in the first seven minutes as the Panthers vaulted out to a 12-4 lead in the first before carrying a 15-10 edge into the second frame.

However, UNCG slowly battled back and evened the contest at 24-24 at the 5:22 mark. But High Point responded as junior Kat Harris and Currie sandwiched jumpers around Hatfield’s second trifecta as HPU’s lead grew to seven, 34-27 (3:42).

From there, both teams posted one more basket over the final 3:42 to enter the break with the Purple & White maintaining a 36-30 advantage.

Despite eight points from Bockrath in the frame, the Spartans outscored the Panthers 23-10 in the quarter to build a 53-46 edge.

However, Morgan and Obusek each converted field goals in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter to keep HPU within striking distance, 53-50. The Panthers continued on the comeback trail until Currie evened the score at 55-all with 5:12 to play.

Just 40 seconds later, Obusek tallied a transition layup to give the Panthers a 57-56 edge with 4:26 on the clock. From there, neither team led by more than two as the game reached the 1:26 mark tied 62-62.

Both defense produced gritty stands to keep the final 86 seconds of regulation scoreless. But a 7-5 overtime advantage allowed the visiting Spartans to come away with the victory.

The Purple & White open Big South play on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Millis Center when they host Winthrop.