HPU men’s basketball wins streak halted with 74-71 loss to UNC Asheville

• High Point suffered its first loss in seven games as the Panthers fall at home to UNC Asheville, 74-71.
• Sophomore Ricky Madison scored a career-high 18 points on 9-10 shooting in the loss.
• HPU shot over 50 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle for the 10th-atraight game, holding UCN Asheville to just 25 boards.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team saw its six-game win streak come to a close in a 74-71 nail biter against UNC Asheville on Saturday night at the Millis Center. Sophomore Ricky Madison led the way for the Panthers with a career-high 18 points in the loss.

“This was a really good basketball game between two talented teams,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “The guys played their hearts out and didn’t quit which I knew this group is not going to ever do. It came down to little things and down the stretch those little things hurt us. They got up nine and its hard to come back against a team like that down nine that late.”

Madison shot 9-10 from the field on his way to a new career-high, besting his previous career best of 16 points, which he scored against Ferrum earlier in the season. The sophomore also pulled down six rebounds in the contest.

Four other High Point players finished in double figures as redshirt-senior Miles Bowman Jr., and sophomore Andre Fox had 12 points each, senior Anthony Lindauer scored 11 points and senior Tarique Thompson finished with 10 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Fox and Lindauer tied for the team lead with six assists each.

UNC Asheville had four players finish the game in double figures led by Ahmad Thomas who scored a game-high 19 points on 9-16 shooting, but just four in the second half. MaCio Teague finished with 18 points, Alec Wnuk had 14 and Kevin Vannatta added 13 for the visitors.

The loss is High Point’s first since losing to Liberty on Jan. 11. It drops the Panthers to 13-11 overall and 7-5 in the Big South. UNC Asheville improves to 18-7 overall and 10-2 in conference play with its fifth win in a row.

Asheville got the first two baskets of the game to start up 4-0, but the Panthers came roaring back with a 13-4 run to go ahead by five, 13-8, with 12:51 left in the first half. High Point got contributions from five different players in the run, including Bowman Jr., who got in for a layup then hit a 15-footer on consecutive trips to put HPU into the lead.

High Point’s lead sat at seven after a 3-pointer from the right corner by freshman Jamal Wright with 7:39 to play in the first half. A 3-point play by Asheville’s Alec Wnuk on the next possession started a 13-3 run over the next three minutes that put the visitors in front by three, 29-26.A 3-point play from Thompson tied the game on the next trip and the Panthers went into the locker room at the half up two on a 3-pointer from Lindauer with a little over a minute left in the half.

The Purple & White led by three, 54-51, with just over nine minutes left in the contest when Asheville switched to a 3-2 zone defense that slowed down the Panther offense. The Bulldogs took advantage with a 17-5 run over the next seven minutes that put the visitors ahead by nine with 2:55 left to play.

Fox connected on a 3-pointer to break the run by Asheville as High Point got seven-straight points from the pair of Fox and Madison to get back within one possession at 68-66 with 1:21 to play.

The Panthers were unable to get over the hump in the final minute as Teague went 6-6 from the free throw line to keep Asheville in front. High Point had one final shot to tie the game at the buzzer but Wright’s running 3-pointer hit off the rim and the visitors held on for the three-point win.

Both teams shot the ball well as HPU shot 27-53 (50.9 percent) and UNC Asheville went 27-52 (51.9 percent). The Panthers outrebounded Asheville, 30-25, but managed just two second-chance points.

High Point is right back on the road this week as the team will head to South Carolina for a Big South showdown with Presbyterian College on Thursday, Feb. 9, in Clinton, S.C. Tip in the game is set for 7 p.m.