HPU men¹s basketball rallies late but falls to Winthrop, 80-74

• High Point used a late rally to pull within one with less than two minutes to play but was unable to get over the hump, falling to Winthrop, 80-74.
• Four players finished in double figures led by Miles Bowman Jr., and Tarique Thompson who both had 15 on the night.
• The Panthers outscored Winthrop in the paint, 28-20, and outrebounded the Eagles by seven but were unable to overcome 17 3-pointers from the visitors.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team saw a second-half comeback bid come up just short as the Panthers rallied from down double-digits to within one before ultimately falling to Winthrop by a score of 80-74 at the Millis Center on Wednesday night.

High Point trailed by 14 early in the second half and by nine with eight minutes to play but managed to rally late to pull within one at 75-74 on a jumper by sophomore Andre Fox with 1:41 left in the contest.

Junior Austin White helped spur the HPU comeback with lockdown defense on Winthrop leading scorer Keon Johnson late in the game. Johnson had hit seven three pointers, including five in the second half when HPU switched up its defense, putting White exclusively on the Eagle guard. The South Orange, N.J., native shutdown Johnson from that point forward, holding him without a field goal attempt in the final eight minutes of the contest.

The one-point deficit was as close as the Panthers would get though as Winthrop hit a jumper on the other end and scored the final five points down the stretch for the six-point win.

Four players finished in double figures for the High Point, led by forwards Miles Bowman Jr., and Tarique Thompson, who both had 15 on the night. Thompson was a perfect 7-7 from the floor while chipping in with five rebounds while Bowman Jr., posted his sixth double-double of the season with a team-high 11 boards. Fox finished with 14 points and freshman Jamal Wright matched his career-high with 13 to go along with a team-high four assists.

Johnson led all scorers in the contest with 27 points on 7-14 shooting, 7-8 from behind the arc. Xavier Cooks had a double-double for WU with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Bjorn Broman finished with 15, all on 3-pointers.

“The game came down to execution tonight,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “I thought we played really well but we had a couple possessions down the stretch where we just didn’t score. We have to learn to get better. We will get into practice and figure out what we need to do at the end of games. I feel really good about the guys’ effort tonight now we need to carry that forward and continue to play with that intensity.”

High Point drops to 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the Big South with the loss while Winthrop moves to 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

It was a slow start for both teams with the first point not being scored until a free throw by Bowman Jr., two minutes in and the first field goal coming from Wright three minutes into the contest.

The two teams were knotted at 8-8 when a 3-pointer by senior Anthony Lindauer moved High Point in front and started an 11-4 burst that put the Panthers ahead, 19-12, with 11:47 to go in the opening half.

Winthrop used the three to get back into the game, going on an 14-2 run that included four 3-pointers to go ahead by five, 26-21 with a little over eight minutes left to play in the first half.

The visitors’ lead would grow to as large at 10 in the opening half on a three from Broman with 1:12 to go before two free throws from Bowman Jr., sent the two teams into the locker room with Winthrop ahead, 40-32.

The Panthers scored the first bucket of the second half on a steal and layup by White but Winthrop came back with a 12-4 run using four 3-pointers, three by Johnson, to go ahead by 14, with 16 minutes left to play.

The Panthers dominated the paint in the game, outscoring WU down low, 28-20, while also outrebounding the Eagles by seven, 41-34. The Purple & White was unable to overcome Winthrop’s outside shooting though as the visitors tied a program record with 17 3-pointers on the night.

High Point hits the road this weekend for a conference matchup with UNC Asheville on Saturday, Jan. 7, in Asheville, N.C. Tip in the game is set for 2 p.m.