HPU WBB surges past Liberty for sixth straight win, 78-69

• Sophomore Emma Bockrath racked up 25 points to become the first Panther since Erin Reynolds (2011-12) to score 20-plus in four straight contests.
• Senior Kaylah Keys registered 26 points to give HPU two players with 20 points for the first time since Nov. 23, 2014 against William & Mary.
• High Point has won six straight, which is the longest winning streak since the 2013-14 squad won seven straight in February-March of 2014.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team used an 18-0 second-quarter run to earn a 78-69 victory over Liberty in the Millis Center on Tuesday night.

Senior Kaylah Keys registered 26 points while sophomore Emma Bockrath posted 25 points to lead the Panthers (11-13, 9-4) to a huge Big South win over the Flames (9-15, 8-5).

Bockrath kept the Purple & White within striking distance scoring 10 points in the first quarter before Keys and junior Kat Harris sparked the 18-0 run. Liberty, however, was able to pull within single digits in the fourth quarter, but HPU locked down the win with a solid free throw shooting performance down the stretch.

“It’s fun to watch our team come together, right now,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “The effort on the defensive end of the floor is the most impressive thing we are doing. I think our kids are really buying in to the system and trusting each other and when a team does that it’s pretty fun to watch for a coach.”

The win gave the Purple & White their first six-game winning streak since the end of the 2013-14 season. Similarly, it moved the Panthers into third place behind Campbell and Radford who are tied for first atop the conference standings.

Bockrath’s 25-point outing gave her four straight games with 20 or more points, which is the most in a row since Erin Reynolds achieved the feat in five straight. The two-time reigning Big South Player of the Week didn’t just score, though, as she added seven rebounds and five steals.

Keys, meanwhile, drilled four three-pointers and pulled down six rebounds to go with her season-high scoring output.

On the night, High Point shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56) and a scorching 9-of-12 in the second quarter. On the other side, the home team limited its visitors to 38.1 percent (24-of-63) shooting on the night. Combined, Keys and Bockrath shot 16-of-27 and were responsible for 65 percent of the team’s offensive output.

But it was the charity stripe that really made the difference at the end of the night for High Point. HPU hit 25-of-33 (75.8 percent) with 13 makes coming in the final three minutes while Liberty shot 19-of-23 (82.6 percent)

Harris and sophomore Shea Morgan and Lindsey Edwards posted seven points apiece while sophomore Haleigh Hatfield and redshirt-sophomore Kennedy Currie both notched four boards.

Overall, High Point earned a plus-5 margin (40-35) on the glass and only committed one more turnover than the Flames (12-11).

Bockrath went to work scoring 10 points in the first quarter points as Liberty battled to a 16-15 lead after one.

However, the cavalry came in the second quarter as Keys drilled two three’s to anchor an 18-0 HPU run to give the Panthers a 33-16 lead with 2:15 left in the second. Liberty fought back to within 11, 33-22, but Bockrath scored the final four points of the half for HPU to send enter the break up 37-23.

Despite slowing offensively, the Panthers were able to maintain a 51-38 lead through the third due to limiting Liberty to 6-of-17 shooting in the frame.

After Keys opened the final period with a three, the Flames turned up the heat with a 14-5 run to cut the lead to five, 56-51 with 5:37 to play. However, Keys and Bockrath converted layup attempts and Edwards canned two free throws as HPU regained a double-digit advantage (65-54, 3:02).

From there, Liberty could get no closer than seven as the Panthers went 13-of-16 down the stretch from the line to earn a crucial 78-69 victory.

The Panthers return to the Millis Center court on Saturday at 2 p.m. to take on the Campbell Camels.