HPU Men’s Basketball’s Comeback Bid Falls Short to Radford

Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: Radford 81, High Point 70,
Records: RU (14-9, 9-2 Big South), HPU (7-17, 4-7 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Monday, Feb. 10 — at Gardner-Webb (Boiling Springs, N.C.), 7 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team was unable to pull off a comeback despite rallying from a 26-point deficit to bring the game within eight points in an 81-70 loss to Radford on Saturday evening (Feb. 8). Senior Jamal Wright and junior Denny Slay Jr. led the Panthers off the bench with a team-leading 17 points each.

“We did some things well. If we could have made shots in the first half and limited them it would have been a different game,” said head coach Tubby Smith. “I was impressed with Cliff, he came in off the bench and played well. Also, Denny shot the ball well late in the game for us. When we executed our game plan we played well, we just weren’t pressuring the ball and weren’t defending and getting after it defensively as we should have,”

Caden Sanchez opened the scoring for both teams, knocking down a quick jumper 30 seconds into the contest. High Point then fell into a four-minute offensive drought. Slay Jr. was able to stop the bleeding for the home side with a jumper at the 15:09 mark.

Radford jumped out to a double-digit lead with a Devin Hutchinson three-pointer at the 13:00 mark of the opening stanza and took a 20-point lead into halftime, thanks in part to shooting 50% (8-16) from beyond the arc and 61.5% (16-26) from the field in the first half.

Both teams struggled coming out of the locker and it took a pair of Radford free throws to break the seal. The Highlanders jumped out to as many as 26 points at the 14:06 mark as the second half began to mirror the first.

The Panthers found their stroke and brought life into Millis with a 10-0 run that was sparked by a Slay three-pointer with 4:29 on the clock and capped off by another Slay three-bucket. HPU would bring the score to single digits (76-68) after a pair of Cliff Thomas Jr. free throws but Radford would hit free throws of its own in the lasting minutes to hold off the HPU comeback bid.

Sophomore Rob Peterson III also reached double digits in scoring and recorded a career-high 12 points while also securing five rebounds. Thomas recorded 10 points and a team-leading seven rebounds, recording the most minutes played (16:39) since returning to the rotation from injury. Slay Jr. reached a season-high 17 points for the third time this year, with this being the first time he’s done it at Millis Center.

The Panthers head back on the road on Monday (Feb. 10) when they travel to Gardner-Webb. Tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m.