High Point University Women’s Basketball Starts 2020 with Big South Win

Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 85, USC Upstate 46
Records: HPU: 3-9 (1-2 Big South), UPST: 6-6, (1-2 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Monday, Jan. 6 — vs. Radford (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 7 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Four different Panthers scored in double digits for the third time this season as the High Point University women’s basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak with an 85-46 win over USC Upstate Saturday afternoon (Jan. 4). Sophomore Skyler Curran led the team in scoring for the fourth straight game, dropping in 17 points, followed closely by senior Camryn Brown with 16, freshman Callie Scheier with 12 for the second-straight game, and redshirt sophomore Zaria Wright scoring 11 to hit double digits for the first time since scoring 13 at American.

“I’m happy with how we played,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the win. “It was a good team win today, not just one player had to do it all. We came together, defended as a team, and rebounded as a team. We had three players with seven rebounds and two with eight and that’s something we’ve been focusing on the last few days. We had guards in there rebounding we today and so I was happy with our overall effort.”

The three-point shot was not the tool of choice in the victory for the Panthers, taking a season-low 20 attempts from behind the arc. HPU converted on eight of those attempts for a season-best 40% shooting percentage from deep. Instead, High Point took the game to the paint and running in transition, outscoring the Spartans 44-34 in the lane and 24-0 on the break.

“When our system works, we score in a variety of ways,” Banbury said of the offensive strategy. “We’ll score at the basket and from behind the three-point line. We’ve been emphasizing getting the defense off balance and I think we did a better job of that today. It was nice to see that we were carrying stuff over from practice into the game.”

The Panthers’ defense continued to play well, forcing 20 turnovers for the second-straight game and fourth time this season. HPU capitalized on those mistakes, scoring 19 points off turnovers from the visitors. Of the 20 turnovers, 12 were forced by a High Point steal, a season-high and the third game of the last four with 10+ steals for the Panthers. The steals were a team effort, with eight different Panthers collecting a steal, led by Scheier’s three swipes.

Going hand-in-hand with takeaways, HPU took care of the ball, only committing 12 turnovers, the third-fewest in a game this season. The Panthers moved the ball well to help contribute to the lack of turnovers, collecting 16 assists in the game, the fourth time this year the Purple and White have dished over 15 assists. Brown and Curran each had five of those, a season-high for Curran and matching her career-high.

Things didn’t start easy for High Point, with Upstate scoring the first seven points of the game. The Panthers tied the game at 11 and then took the lead on Curran’s only triple of the game and never looked back. Wright proved to be the catalyst in the opening quarter, leading the team with eight, scoring eight of High Point’s last 10 points in the quarter to lead 24-15 after one.

The Panthers pushed their lead to double-digits two minutes into the second quarter on a layup from Curran and extended it to as many as 15 before the Spartans mounted a small comeback before the break. Upstate cut it to eight, 37-29 with under a minute remaining in the half but redshirt sophomore Danielle Deoul put in a layup to give HPU the 39-29 lead at the half.

Deoul had five of her seven points in the first half and finished the game as one of the players with seven rebounds. Four of those came in the opening 20 minutes, tying her with Curran and redshirt sophomore Jenson Edwards for the team lead at the half. The Purple and White led not only on the scoreboard at the half but in most other metrics as well, out-rebounding Upstate 22-14, committing three fewer turnovers and getting three more steals.

Second-half struggles have been an issue for High Point in the early part of the season, with four losses coming after leading at the break. That was not the case in Saturday’s game, thanks to the 1-2 punch of Curran and Brown coming alive in the third, combining for 15 of the Panthers’ 24 points in the quarter. HPU doubled up Upstate over the first half of the quarter, going on a 12-4 run in the first six minutes after the break to make it an 18-point game.

An 11-0 run closed out the quarter to give the Panthers a 63-40 lead heading into the fourth. Curran and Brown accounted for the last nine points of that run, giving Curran 14 and Brown 16 after three quarters. Brown only played three minutes in the fourth quarter and didn’t score to finish with those 16 points. That gives her 976 points in her career, just 24 points shy of becoming the 13th Panther in the Division I era of High Point women’s basketball to reach the 1,000-point mark.

HPU squashed any thought of an Upstate comeback in the fourth, dominating the quarter, 22-6. Junior Chyna McMichel and Scheier led the charge in the fourth, scoring seven and six points, respectively in the final 10 minutes. McMichel finished with nine points in the contest, tying her career-high from the Norfolk State game.

The rebounds were even in the final quarter at 13 apiece but thanks to the eight-rebound margin the Panthers had in the first half, High Point out-rebounded the Spartans 49-36 in the game the best rebounding margin in a single game this season. HPU’s 49 rebounds are also a season-high and the most since grabbing 53 against Gardner-Webb last February.

Curran and McMichel were the two Panthers with eight rebounds to tie for the team lead, a career-high for McMichel. Brown, Deoul, and Edwards all had seven, a career-high for Deoul and matching Edwards’ career-high from the season opener at Duke. Brown was one shy of matching her season-high of eight that she corralled at American.

High Point also set season-bests in shooting, scoring more than 80 points for the first time this season and winning by a margin of 39 points. That the largest margin of victory since the Purple and White beat Presbyterian by that same amount on Jan. 10 last year. The win snaps High Point’s longest losing streak since the 2016-17 season when the Panthers lost six-straight from November to December.

The Panthers will look to build on the win with a matchup against Big South unbeaten Radford Monday night (Jan. 6). HPU then heads back on the road to complete the stretch of four games in eight days with contests at UNC Asheville on Thursday (Jan. 9) and Charleston Southern next Saturday (Jan. 11).