HPU Men’s Basketball Uses Second Half Surge to Defeat Spartans

Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 62, USC Upstate 54
Records: HPU (8-19, 5-9 Big South), USCU (11-16, 6-8 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Thursday, Feb. 20 — vs Presbyterian (Millis Center), 7:00 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team used a second half rally to defeat USC Upstate, 62-54, on Saturday (Feb. 15) at Millis Center. John Michael-Wright had a team-high 18 points, with 15 coming in the second half.

The home side got on the board first after Rob Peterson III converted a jump hook in the face of multiple Spartan defenders. USC Upstate then took the lead after a furious 9-0 run. An Eric Coleman Jr. floater followed by a pair of free throws from the freshman cut the USC Upstate lead to just three midway through the first stanza.

Nevin Zink countered for the visitors, putting in a layup at the 12:39 mark. Zink’s layup sparked a run for USC Upstate that saw them take a 17-9 lead with just under nine minutes left. After trading baskets with the opposition, a crafty euro step in the lane by Jamal Wright put Millis in a frenzy.

With the crowd still on their feet the Panthers went on a 7-3 run, cutting the Spartan lead to just four at the 3:01 mark. High Point closed out the half with a steal that turned into a Peterson III dunk with less than five seconds left. The last-second dunk sent High Point into the locker room down only one possession.

Out of the break, Caden Sanchez tied the game after grabbing an offensive rebound and going back up in traffic. High Point got a stop on the next possession and John Michael Wright’s floater gave High Point its first lead since the game’s opening bucket. The freshman continued to come up big, converting two and one opportunities in an 8-0 Panther run.

With a 42-36 advantage, High Point continued to pour onto its lead. The home side went up by as many as eight before USC Upstate put together a run of its own. With a little under 13 minutes left Thomas Booker cut the deficit to four after a pair of free throws, followed by a jumper in the next possession.

High Point maintained a moderate lead for much of the second half. It wasn’t until the 4:21 mark that USC Upstate made a run and ultimately tied the game at 51 all. Peterson III gave HPU breathing room after converting a pair of free throws with 2:59 left. John Michael-Wright’s fall-away jumper as the shot clock expired helped the Panther case, giving them a 56-51 lead. The Spartans made a late push in the closing moments but to no avail as High Point sealed the victory with free throws.

The Panthers conclude their two-game homestand on Thursday (Feb. 20) when they host Presbyterian for a 7 p.m. tipoff.