Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 74, Hampton 59
Records: HPU: 10-11 (8-4 Big South), HU: 12-9 (8-4 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Feb. 8 — at USC Upstate (Spartanburg, S.C.), 2 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Two members of High Point University women’s basketball’s freshman class had career games on Tuesday (Feb. 4), combining for 31 points in HPU’s 74-59 victory over Hampton University. True freshman Amaria McNear scored 16 points in the game while redshirt freshman Courtney Meadows added 15, both career highs, to lead the Panthers to victory.
The win sweeps the season series with Hampton and moves the Purple and White into a tie with the Lady Pirates and Radford for second place in the Big South with eight games remaining on the schedule.
“This is a big win for us, big for the standings in the conference,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the game. “There’s a lot of teams right there within one or two games of each other and the fact that we could get the sweep of Hampton was huge tonight.”
Despite both teams struggling to find the basket to start the game, High Point found its stride through the middle portion of the frame to lead big after one, 24-7. It took over two minutes for the ball to finally make its way in either hoop, but the Panthers started the game off on a 7-0 run and finished the quarter shooting 56.3%.
Hampton finally got on the board with a layup but HPU responded with unanswered triples on three straight possessions. McNear had the final triple of the run, part of a very strong first quarter with six points and three rebounds. Sophomore Skyler Curran had a strong quarter on the boards as well, grabbing five in the first 10 minutes to go with her six points.
McNear stayed hot to start the second, dropping in a layup on the first possession of the new quarter. High Point continued to rain in shots from deep, connecting on back-to-back-to-back triples once again. Curran nearly finished the quarter with a double-double, scoring 12 and snagging eight boards while playing the entire half. McNear ended the first 20 with double-digit points as well, scoring 10 of her 16 in the opening half.
The Panthers finished the first half with over double Hampton’s points, 42-20, and double the Lady Pirates’ shooting percentage, connecting on 48.4% of their shots to Hampton’s 23.3%. Eight total threes dropped on 21 attempts for HPU in the half for a 38.1% shooting percentage, well above Hampton’s average of holding opponents to just 26.1% from beyond the arc.
The offense slowed in the third quarter for both teams, combining for 30 points, the fewest of any quarter in the game. High Point only shot 30.8% in the third, but the defense did its job, holding Hampton to 25.0% in the quarter. Meadows was the freshman with the hot hand in the second half, copying McNear’s first-half performance to score 10 of her 15 points after the break. The Lady Pirates cut the lead to 17 with 2:40 left before Meadows went on a 6-2 run by herself, knocking down her second triple of the year as part of the run. HU connected on one more free throw with three seconds left in the quarter but the Panthers still entered the final quarter with a 20-point lead, 56-36.
“Courtney was huge for us there,” Banbury said of the freshman’s performance. “We had a stretch where we had some trouble scoring and she was able to get to the basket and make some plays. Some of our more traditional scorers were on the bench with foul trouble and she stepped up and came through.”
To make up for the offensive struggles in the third, both teams exploded offensively in the fourth, with High Point shooting 54.5% in the quarter while Hampton connected at a 64.7% clip, combining for 41 points in the final 10 minutes. Similar to the second quarter, the hot hand in the third started things off for HPU in the fourth, as Meadows knocked down a mid-range jumper in the first 30 seconds, followed by McNear’s second triple of the night, the second time she’s connected from long range twice in a single game.
One of the aforementioned players on the bench in foul trouble was Curran, missing a good chunk of the second half due to picking up her fourth foul in the third. She was still able to make her mark in the fourth, drilling shots from deep on back-to-back possessions. She only picked up one rebound in the third quarter to get her to nine on the day, and got the 10th one she needed for her fourth double-double of the season with 2:44 left in the game, and added another one for good measure to finish with 11 to go along with her game-high 21 points.
The Panthers stopped scoring with just over four minutes showing on the clock but Hampton went cold as well, only hitting two more shots for five points from that point on to give High Point the win, 74-59. HPU finished the game with a 45.5% shooting percentage, improving to 9-0 when shooting above 40% in a game.
The win moves High Point back into a three-way tie for second, with Hampton and Radford, and secures the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lady Pirates. The Purple and White also improved to 4-0 all-time against HU to remain the only school in the Big South that Hampton has yet to beat in its program history.
High Point leaves the Millis Center for one of its three remaining road games on Saturday (Feb. 8) when the Panthers travel to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on USC Upstate at 2 p.m. The Spartans sit 10th in the Big South standings but almost pulled off a huge upset of top-ranked Campbell on Feb. 1, taking the Fighting Camels to the brink in double overtime. Campbell is who HPU has after Upstate, welcoming the Big South’s top team to the Millis Center next Tuesday (Feb. 11) at 7 p.m.