• The Panthers made a defensive stand at the buzzer to hold on and defeat Gardner-Webb, 66-65
• Senior Jordan Whitehead tied a career high with 12 points, while four other Panthers scored nine points
• HPU closes out the home slate Thursday (Feb. 22) against Longwood
HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball made a defensive stop at the buzzer and pulled out a critical 66-65 win over Gardner-Webb Sunday afternoon (Feb. 18) at Millis Center.
Up 64-61 with 2:34 to go, senior Jordan Whitehead made a pair of free throws to give the Panthers (13-14, 8-8 Big South) a five-point advantage. Gardner-Webb (12-17, 7-9 Big South) cut the lead to one at 66-65 on a Jaheam Cornwall layup with 40 seconds.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs forced a turnover close to the shot clock expiring and had less than 10 seconds to score. The Panthers forced Gardner-Webb’s leading scorer, David Efianayi to give up the ball and Cornwall’s off-balance shot from the elbow bounced off the rim at the buzzer to seal the victory for High Point.
“I think you can only describe it as gutting out a win,” HPU head coach Scott Cherry said. “It wasn’t pretty, but I thought we were really good defensively in the second half, holding them to 39 percent and not allowing a three. We have get a little better execution-wise offensively and take care of the ball when we need to, but we’ll take the win. It wasn’t easy, the guys competed and figured out a way to win.”
The Panthers shot 43.4 percent from the field (23-53), but only 15.4 percent (2-13) from behind the arc. Gardner-Webb shot 52.0 percent in the first half and converted five 3-pointers, but HPU did not allow a 3-pointer in the second half (0-6).
Whitehead was the only Panther in double figures with 12 points, tying a career-high, while four HPU players each had nine points. Freshman Justyn Mutts added six points and a team-leading seven rebounds.
It was a game of runs as the Panthers went on a 9-0 run to take a 42-33 lead. The Runnin’ Bulldogs came back on a 13-4 run of their own to tie the game at 46, but Panthers fought back with an 8-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomores Luke Vargo and Brandonn Kamga.
Up next, the Panthers host their final home game of the regular season against Longwood on Thursday (Feb. 22). Tip-off at the Millis Center is set for 7 p.m.