Site: Asheville, N.C. (Kimmel Arena)
Score: High Point 68, UNC Asheville 66
Records: HPU (4-13. 1-3 Big South), UNCA (7-8, 1-3 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Jan. 18 — vs Charleston Southern (Millis Center) 2 p.m.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team never relinquished the lead, earning its first Big South Conference victory, 68-66, over UNC Asheville Thursday (Jan. 16) evening at Kimmel Arena.
Playing without sophomore Curtis Holland III and redshirt junior Cliff Thomas Jr., the duo of upperclassmen Jamal Wright (17 points) and Denny Slay II (14 points) stepped up in their absence to combine for 31 points off the bench, including a combined 42% (5-12) from beyond the arc. Freshman Eric Coleman Jr. also contributed with a career-high 15 points, 10 coming in the opening half.
HPU got the first basket of the game from a Coleman Jr. jump shot and then doubled up the Bulldogs (14-7) after a Slay II three-pointer at the 12:31 mark of the opening half. The shots just kept falling for the Panthers as they jumped out to a double digit lead at the 4:27 mark. Slay II’s three capped off the 10-2 HPU run.
The Panthers carried their lead into halftime thanks in part to a spark from the bench. They accounted for 13 first half points, helping stave off a UNC Asheville run toward the end of the opening stanza.
Coleman continued his hot start by opening up the second half with a corner three, but UNC Asheville proceeded on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 40 apiece. HPU would respond with a 9-0 run of its own to regain a nine-point advantage that included five points by senior Jamal Wright – who finished with season-high 14 points while shooting 50% (5-10) from the field.
High Point held a single digit lead for much of the second half, until a John Michael-Wright layup gave the Panthers an 11 point lead, their largest lead of the game. With just over two minutes to go an HPU victory looked all but secured before a pair of late Bulldog triples cut the lead to just three. It was a pair of Jamal Wright free throws that ultimately clinched the win for HPU giving them its first win in Big South Conference play.
The Panthers will return home on Saturday (Jan. 18) when they host Charleston Southern at the Millis Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.