Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 88, Hampton 85
Records: HPU (7-16, 4-6 Big South), HU (10-12, 5-4 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Feb. 8 — vs Radford (Millis Center), 7 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Senior Jamal Wright reached his career-high in the first half and finished with 34 points to help lead the High Point University men’s basketball team to an 88-85 win over Hampton on Thursday (Feb. 6) night in Big South Conference action. Redshirt sophomore Caden Sanchez also recorded his career high, scoring 24 points in the winning effort.
“We beat a really good team,” head coach Tubby Smith said. “We had them in situations where we could’ve iced the game, but they didn’t quit. We showed our moxie and our courage though tonight and got a hard-fought win, thanks in large part to these two guys (Sanchez and Wright) – they played really well.”
Wright shot an astonishing 10-13 from the field while going 5-7 from beyond the arc and 9-11 from the free throw line – all eclipsing his career-highs. His previous single game high was 20 points during his freshman season vs Presbyterian (Jan. 14, 2017).
The Panthers opened the game firing on all cylinders offensively, taking an early lead thanks to close buckets from freshman Bryant Randleman and Sanchez. The High Point defense saw early success as well, forcing Hampton to a slow 0-4 start from the field. The Pirates clawed their way back eventually jumping out to a five-point lead but an Eric Coleman Jr. three cut it to just two, and on Hampton’s very next possession, Jamal Wright poked the ball free and finished in transition to knot the game up at 11.
Unfortunately for HPU the trend would be short lived, as it found themselves on the wrong end up a 14-3 run in the middle of the first half. Down 14, an emphatic block from freshman Manny Izubanor was the jump start the Panthers needed. It ignited a 9-0 run that was started by a Jamal Wright layup and capped by a pair of threes from the senior, which cut the Hampton lead to just two.
With just under two minutes left in the first half Hampton and High Point traded baskets in what was a fast-paced end-to-end conclusion to the opening half. It was once again Jamal Wright proving to be the difference maker, knocking down a step back three to give HPU a 38-37 lead. The half concluded with the Panthers taking a one-point lead thanks to a pair of free throws from junior Denny Slay.
Wright ended the half with 20 points on 8-9 shooting.
As the second half began the Panthers got out to an early eight-point lead thanks to a run sparked by Sanchez. The big man was pivotal down the stretch, grabbing a multitude of offensive rebounds and scoring late in the shot clock.
Just as it looked like the Panthers would run away with the victory, Hampton slowly crept its way back into it, cutting the 13-point HPU lead to just three with nine minutes left. Ben Stanley was the soul of the Pirate run; his effort was enough to tie the game late in the second stanza. He finished the game with 25 points and ten rebounds.
Tied at 67 late, Sanchez once again put High Point back on top with a layup and HPU was able to build a slim lead heading down the stretch. Wright and Sanchez carried High Point with basket after basket, ultimately giving their side a one-point lead with one minute left. The Panther’s defense sealed the win in the closing moments, forcing Hampton to go scoreless in the last 1:46 of regulation.
Sachez’s 24 points and Wright’s 34 mark the first time since March 7, 2019 that High Point has had a pair of teammates score 20+ points.
Freshman John-Michael Wright also reached double-figures, scoring 11 points while adding eight rebounds.
High Point returns to Millis Center on Saturday (Feb. 8) when it hosts Radford at 7 p.m.