HPU WBB Panthers outlasted by Flames in 81-74 setback

• Senior Kaylah Keys poured in 14 first-quarter points en route to 25 points on the strength of five three-pointers.
• Sophomore Emma Bockrath did it all for High Point scoring 19 points while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.
• The Panthers shot 50 percent and drilled seven three-pointers in the first quarter to build a 28-25 lead, but couldn’t maintain the hot shooting clip.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University women’s basketball team started hot at Liberty, but couldn’t hold on falling to the Flames, 81-74, in the Vines Center on Saturday evening.

The Panthers (3-10, 1-1) poured in 28 points in the first quarter as senior Kaylah Keys recorded 14 points in the frame. However, the Flames (3-10, 2-0) fought back and took a 49-43 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the lead seesawed early in the period before Liberty took control and staved off a late rally from Keys and sophomore Emma Bockrath to claim the 81-74 win.

“This game put our team in position to see how important it is to play a solid 40 minutes,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We started off hot in the first quarter and we were executing on offense, but when things didn’t go as well in the second quarter we didn’t keep composure and we’ll work on that. Defensively, something we’ve been talking about all season is post defense and we just didn’t play well enough, but we will look at film and get this fixed.”

Sophomore Emma Bockrath stuffed the box score scoring a season-high 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Meanwhile, the Dayton, Ohio native led the team with nine rebounds and five assists.

Likewise, Keys recorded a season-high 25 points along with five three-pointers, which moved her to ninth on the Big South’s career three-point list. The guard also tallied a game-high four steals.

High Point shot 50 percent in the first quarter (9-18), but couldn’t keep up that pace shooting 27 percent the rest of the way (14-52). Similarly, HPU hit 7-of-10 from beyond the arc and just 2-19 the rest of the way.

Junior Kat Harris and sophomore Haleigh Hatfield got off to fast starts and finished the day with nine points and eight points apiece. Meanwhile, Hatfield tied Bockrath for the team lead in rebounds with nine as freshman Carol-Anne Obusek and sophomore Shea Morgan grabbed five each.

On the defensive end, the Panthers forced 13 turnovers and posted eight steals. Liberty earned a 47-42 edge on the glass and shot 44 percent (28-64) in the win.

The Panthers started the three-point party early as Harris drilled two and Hatfield and Keys each tallied one as HPU built a 15-8 edge (6:23). Later a three-pointer from Keys extended the lead to nine, 20-11, with 3:58 on the clock.

However, Liberty fought back with an 11-3 run to pull within one at 23-22 before two more trifectas by Keys sent HPU to the second quarter with a 28-25 advantage. Freshman Keyen Green led Liberty with 26 points and 11 rebounds in the paint.

From there, the Flames surged ahead, 37-35, three minutes into the second quarter. Later, Bockrath answered with a three-point play to make it 35-32 in HPU’s favor with 8:10 until the break. But that was the last field goal for High Point in the half as the Flames closed the half on a 17-8 run and took a 49-43 lead into the break.

After halftime, HPU’s offense found its stroke hitting four of its first six field goals to make it 56-51 with 7:28 left in the third frame. Yet again, Liberty responded by picking up their defensive pressure holding the Panthers to one more field goal in the period as the home team led 67-56 headed into the fourth.

In the final period, Bockrath kept the Panthers within striking distance with seven points in the frame. However, HPU could get no closer than six until five straight points from Keys made it 78-74 with 29 seconds to play.

From there, the Panthers were able to get multiple open looks from three, but couldn’t convert as the Flames closed out the 81-

The Purple & White will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 10 against Charleston Southern in the Millis Center at 7 p.m.