Site: Spartanburg, S.C. (G.B. Hodge Center)
Score: High Point 81, USC Upstate 45
Records: HPU: 11-11 (9-4 Big South), UPST: 7-15 (2-11 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Tuesday, Feb. 11 — vs. Campbell (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.), 7 p.m.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Four Panthers scored in double digits for the sixth time this season as the High Point University women’s basketball team rolled to a third-straight victory in an 81-45 victory over USC Upstate Saturday afternoon (Feb. 8). Senior Camryn Brown led the way with 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half.
“I’m happy to get a road win. Anytime you can go on the road and get a win in conference I think you’re doing something well,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the game. “There were a couple of times that I don’t think we executed like we should have, defensively and offensively; but, as a whole, I’m pretty happy with how we played.”
It was close for the first five minutes of the game, but High Point broke it wide open after the media timeout in the first. The Panthers closed out the quarter on a 14-0 run to lead 21-6 and had three different players score five or more in the first. It’s the second straight game that the Purple and White have held the opponent to single digits in the first quarter, after holding Hampton to seven on Tuesday.
Sophomore Skyler Curran led the way with eight in the opening quarter, all coming during the run. Freshman Amaria McNear had six in the quarter and redshirt sophomore Danielle Deoul scored HPU’s first five points of the game.
The run stretched to 16 points before Upstate had an answer as Curran knocked down a jumper to start the quarter and enter double digits. She hit another triple a few possessions later for her last bucket of the half, leading the team after 20 minutes with 13 points.
High Point extended its lead to 27 in the latter portion of the second with a 14-3 run, with 12 points on the run coming off triples. The Spartans made some ground back before the buzzer, scoring the last five points of the game before the break to cut HPU’s lead to 22 points, 42-20.
The Panthers’ ball movement was on display early and often in the first half, with 10 of the Purple and White’s field goals in the half coming off assists. Lots of assists went hand-in-hand with limited turnovers once again, as HPU only committed three turnovers in the opening half while forcing Upstate to commit nine, five coming on Panther steals.
High Point also switched up its strategy from the first time the two teams met, taking 18 shots behind the arc on the first half and converting on nine of them. When the two teams met in January, HPU attempted just 20 shots from deep in the whole game, the fewest attempted triples on the season for the Panthers.
Upstate came out of the break with the hot hand, opening the third quarter on a 6-0 run before Curran converted on a three-point play to get the Panthers on the board in the second half. The Spartans scored six more in a row after Curran’s free throw before McNear connected from behind the arc for her second of the game. That triple gave McNear 11 points on the day to make it the first time the freshman has scored in double digits in consecutive games.
Brown took over for the Panthers late in the third quarter, scoring all 14 of her points in the third in the final four minutes of the quarter. They came as part of an 18-4 run, sparked by McNear’s triple, to close out the quarter. It got HPU’s lead back to above 20 again, with the Panthers up 27, 63-36, heading into the final quarter. Brown sniffed a triple-double for the second time this season, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out as many assists to go along with her 21 points in the game.
“I’m actually going to start calling the third ‘Cam’s quarter,’ I feel like she’s been doing that a lot lately,” Banbury joked after the game. “As a team, we’ve had some third-quarter lulls where we come out a little flat to start the third quarter. There’s got to be one point where we turn it on and usually that’s Cam and she did it again today.”
High Point’s defense held strong in the final quarter, holding the Spartans to just nine points while the offense put up 18 to get the win, 81-45. The Panthers held Upstate off the board in the final 3:30 of the game, closing things out with a 9-0 run. Senior Olivia VanSlooten had four of the team’s points on the run, hitting one of her two free throws and then connecting on a triple in the corner for a season-high four points in the game.
“Liv is one of a kind,” Banbury had to say her senior. “I would say that her reaction to that three and the free throw were my two favorite things in the game. Her pure excitement and joy for the game are evident when things like that happen.”
HPU’s exceptional ball control continued in the second half, finishing with 21 assists and just eight turnovers. The 21 assists are a season-high for the Panthers and the fourth straight game that High Point has dished out at least 15 helpers, while the eight turnovers are just one more than the season-low. The Purple and White forced Upstate into committing 15 turnovers, with 10 coming on High Point steals, the third game this season the Panthers have swiped 10 or more possessions from the opponent.
Similar to the first meeting between the teams, High Point made its shot from beyond the arc count, going 16-29 from deep for 55.2%, the Panthers’ best shooting percentage from three-point land on the season. HPU went 8-20 from deep against the Spartans the first time the teams met this season for a then season-best shooting percentage of 40% from deep.
High Point returns home on Tuesday (Feb. 11) to face the Big South’s top team – the Campbell Fighting Camels at 7 p.m. HPU then hosts Gardner-Webb on Saturday (Feb. 15) before heading back on the road for its final two road games of the regular season.