High Point Men’s Basketball’s Comeback Bid Falls Short at Saint Louis in Gotham Classic

Site: St. Louis, Mo. (Chaifetz Arena)
Score: Saint Louis 67, High Point 55
Records: SLU (4-1, 0-0 A10), HPU (0-5, 0-0 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Nov. 23 — vs Eastern Washington (Mills Center), 2 p.m.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The High Point University men’s basketball team went on a 17-0 run in the second half but was unable to complete the comeback bid in a 67-55 loss to Saint Louis University on Wednesday (Nov. 20) in a Gotham Classic matchup.

“I am proud of how our guys competed tonight,” said head coach Tubby Smith. “I thought we played a lot harder and smarter than we have in the past few games. To take the A-10 Champions to within seven points late in the game and put pressure on them, I thought our guys matured a lot tonight on the road against a really tough team.”

The second period saw both teams sway back and forth with momentum that started with an 8-1 run by the Panthers that cut the 11-point halftime deficit to four. Curtis Holland III hit a three-pointer to start the second half to trim the deficit to single digits, followed by another trey from freshman John-Michael Wright that brought the Panthers to within five.

SLU hit consecutive three’s that kicked off a five-minute 15-0 run to give the hosts the biggest lead of the night (24) with just under half the period to play.

Switching to a full-court press and running a different combination than usual, High Point silenced the home crowd after consecutive steals by John-Michael Wright that started a season-high 17-0 run for the Panthers. Holland scored seven of his 19 points within the run, while sophomore Rob Peterson III chipped in with four of his seven points in that span.

“I thought our press was effective and we put a different lineup out there. They were making some good decisions defensively and got us back in the game,” added Smith. “Also, John-Michael Wright had a lot of family members here and he was fired up and ready play.”

John-Michael Wright got off to a quick start to the contest scoring seven of the team’s first nine, including a wide open three pointer at the 2:56 mark. The two teams traded baskets early and headed into the first media timeout tied at seven apiece.

High Point took its first lead of the night (13-12) after senior Jamal Wright intercepted a pass at the top of the key and went down for a fast break layup.

SLU went on an 11-0 run in the later minutes of the opening half that spanned five minutes to give them the game’s first double-digit lead.

John-Michael Wright and Holland both shot a team-leading 19 points, which was a career-high for the duo.

HPU’s defense continued to be strong, holding the Billikens to 12.5 percent under their season scoring average.

High Point returns home to conclude the Gotham Classic when it hosts Eastern Washington on Saturday (Nov. 23) afternoon at 2 p.m. from the Millis Center.