• HPU came from behind twice in the second half to win its conference opener
• Senior Jordan Whitehead recorded his first-career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds
• Junior Cliff Thomas Jr. added 10 points, six rebounds and a career-high four blocks off the bench
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team opened Big South play with a 51-50 win at Charleston Southern Saturday evening (Jan. 5) at the Buc Dome.
High Point (8-7, 1-0 Big South) took the lead at 49-48 on a tip-in by senior Jordan Whitehead. After junior Brandonn Kamga then made two free throws with 1:30 to go, the Buccaneers (6-8, 0-1) cut the lead to one with 46 seconds left and had a chance to win, but Christian Keeling’s 3-point jump shot did not go down.
It was the Panthers’ first win at the Buc Dome since Jan. 2, 2016. High Point improved to 12-8 in Big South openers since joining the conference in the 1999-2000 season.
“It was a gritty effort and anytime you can win on the road, it’s a huge win,” HPU head coach Tubby Smith said. “For our players to execute the zone defense the way they did and get the stop at the end, it tells me about the heart and toughness we have.”
For the game, the Panthers shot 34.8 percent (16-46) and held the Buccaneers to 30.2 percent (19-63). HPU also led in rebounds, 46-31, and blocks, 6-3.
Whitehead led the Panthers with his first-career double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, while for the second game in a row, junior Cliff Thomas Jr. made a difference off the bench, scoring 10 points and recording six rebounds and a career-high four blocks.
Freshman Rob Peterson III played a season-high 26 minutes and added seven points and six rebounds, while junior Jahaad Proctor dished out six assists to go along with eight points.
In the first half, the Panthers scored the first eight points, but the Bucs followed with a 15-2 run to take a 15-10 lead. HPU was held to 24 percent shooting (6-25), while CSU shot 35.7 percent (10-28) and took a 25-21 lead into the break.
After the break, the Panthers went on a 14-3 run to tie the game at 38 with 11:05 remaining, but the Bucs came right back with a 7-0 run to take a 45-38 lead with 8:37 left. High Point countered with a 9-0 run to take its first lead since the first half at 47-45.
Keeling led CSU with 12 points.
Up next, the Panthers will open Big South home play on Thursday (Jan. 10) when they host Presbyterian at 7 p.m. The game is part of a doubleheader with the women, who play the Blue Hose at 4 p.m. at the Millis Center. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+.