• Seven Panthers scored in double figures as HPU racked up its second-highest points total since moving to Division I play.
• Freshman Jiselle Thomas led the Panthers scoring 20 points while playing just 18 minutes in her collegiate debut.
• High Point missed its Division I record for steals by just one by tallying 23 pilfers in the contest leading to 45 points off turnovers.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team opened the 2017-18 season in style posting a 111-54 victory over N.C. Wesleyan in the Millis Center on Friday night.
The Panthers (1-0) set the tone early forcing the Battling Bishops into 17 first-quarter turnovers to vault out to a 34-9 lead. The offense just kept pouring it on the rest of the way as seven players scored in double figures led by freshman Jiselle Thomas’ 20 in her college debut.
“Tonight was a fun night and we needed a game like this to start the season to build our confidence as we enter a tough stretch,” head coach DeUnna Hendrix said of her second 100-point game as a head coach. “I thought our defense is a lot more intense than it has been the last couple of years and its matching our offensive style. We are entirely up-tempo. We still have work to do and I think our halfcourt defense could have been a lot better. So, we’ll get back to the drawing board and figure out that for sure.”
Behind Thomas’ 8-of-14 night, the Purple & White shot 49 percent from the floor (48-98) while holding N.C. Wesleyan to 31.4 percent (16-51). The 98 attempted field goals were the most in the program’s Division I era and the field goals made missed the record by one make.
Redshirt-junior Kennedy Currie earned her first career start and responded with a career-high 14 points to go along with nine boards, two steals, two assists and two blocks. Similarly, junior Emma Bockrath recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds while claiming five steals, five assists and a block.
Rounding out the double-figure scorers, junior Lindsey Edwards tallied 16 points as senior Kat Harris (12), freshman Kayla Stephens (11) and junior Shea Morgan (10) reached double digits.
HPU assisted on 28 of its 48 field goals, which came in second in the program’s D-I history. Likewise, the team’s 23 steals were good for second since the team joined the Division I ranks.
Including those 23 steals, the Panthers turned the Battling Bishops’ 38 turnovers into 45 points on the other end. High Point also controlled the paint claiming a +22 margin (60-38) on the board and a 66-14 edge in points in the paint.
Leading the team in assists, Morgan posted six while Stephens and sophomore Camryn Brown added four apiece. Meanwhile, Thomas (four) and seniors Kat Harris (three) and Hunter Fleming (three) helped lead the way in steals.
Along with Currie, Fleming had a career night recording seven points, five rebounds and three steals – all career highs. Morgan’s six assists also marked a career best.
From the point, Stephens and Brown combined to knock down five of HPU’s eight three-pointers as the team hit 50 percent from downtown.
The HPU defense throttled the Battling Bishops scoring 22 points off turnovers in the period to build a 34-9 lead. In her first collegiate quarter, Thomas racked up eight points to lead the squad early.
In the second frame, the pace slowed as High Point posted a 21-16 advantage in the quarter. The Purple & White continued to assert their will in the paint racking up a 14-9 edge in rebounds and scoring 14 points down low to build a 55-25 halftime lead.
After the break, the HPU offense heated back up racking up 30 points as seven different players scored. The 30-point outburst allowed High Point to stretch its lead to 85-36.
Fleming got it going in the fourth scoring all seven of her points to lead the Panthers to a 26-18 edge in the frame as the team closed out the 111-54 victory.
The Panthers get back on the court on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. when they head to Athens, Ohio for a showdown with the Ohio Bobcats.