Site: Rock Hill, S.C. (Winthrop Coliseum)
Score: Winthrop 69, High Point 63
Records: WU: 5-6 (2-0 Big South), HPU: 2-9 (0-2 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Jan. 4 — vs. USC Upstate (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 2 p.m.
ROCK HILL, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team ended the 2019 calendar year with a 69-63 loss to Winthrop University on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31). Three different Panthers scored in double digits in the game, led by sophomore guard Skyler Curran with 19, the sixth time this season she’s finished as HPU’s leading scorer. The Panthers took the lead early and led until the first minute of the fourth quarter when Winthrop stormed back.
High Point had one of its best starts to a game this year, leading by five, 13-8, after the first five minutes of the game. Keeping with the theme of fives, it was five different Panthers combining for the 13 points, including triples from the backcourt trio of Curran, Camryn Brown, and Callie Scheier. Winthrop fought back to cut the lead to two points with 3:24 left in the opening quarter but the Purple and White ended the quarter on a 6-2 run to take a six-point lead into the second.
That run continued in the second quarter of action, with HPU picking up the first eight points of the frame to push it to a 14-2 run and take a 14-point lead in the game. The Eagles came back with a six-point run late in the half to get the lead down to single-digits, 33-25. Freshman Courtney Meadows hit a free throw in the last 10 seconds to give the Panthers a nine-point, 36-27, heading into halftime.
High Point continued to show improved ball movement in the first 20 minutes of play, with nine team assists, led by Brown with four. The Panthers’ ball control as a whole was superior to Winthrop’s in the first half, with HPU committing seven turnovers while forcing the Eagles to commit 15, the fourth time this season that High Point has forced 15 or more turnovers in a game.
Winthrop finished the game with 24 turnovers, the most a High Point opponent has had all season. Eleven of those 24 came from HPU steals, the most the Purple and White have had this year as well. Curran was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in the opening half, with 11 points and four rebounds.
Saturday’s shooting struggles returned to start the second half, with High Point only hitting two shots in the first six minutes of the half. The defense continued doing its job to make up for it, only letting the lead slip to as little as five points. Things picked up late in the half, with the two teams trading threes to close the third quarter, with HPU getting triples from Scheier and Zaria Wright to enter the fourth up six, 52-46.
Winthrop pressed to start the fourth quarter and it paid off early, scoring six points in the first minute to tie things up at 52. The Eagles continued their run to take the lead, scoring a total of 13 straight to lead 59-52 before Curran hit a three to stop the run and get her first points of the second half. Jenson Edwards followed that up with her first triple of the season to make it a one-point game and forced Winthrop to call timeout.
The Panthers knotted things up at 63 on Curran’s fifth triple of the day, but those proved to be HPU’s final points of the game. Winthrop scored on the next possession and kept High Point off the board for the rest of the game. Free throws helped push the lead to six for the Eagles when the final horn sounded, 69-63.
HPU opens 2020 with four games in eight days, with the first two back home at the Millis Center. USC Upstate comes to town for the Big South home opener on Saturday (Jan. 4), followed by Radford on Monday night (Jan. 6). The Panthers then hit the road again, traveling to UNC Asheville on Jan. 9 and Charleston Southern Jan. 11.