HPU MBB Panthers Comeback Attempt Falls Short on Senior Night

Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: UNC Asheville 80, High Point 76,
Records: AVL (14-14, 8-9 Big South), HPU (9-21, 6-11 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Feb. 29 — at Winthrop (Rock Hill, S.C.), 1:00 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team fell 80-76 on Thursday evening to UNC Asheville in its final home regular season game at Millis Center.

HPU’S effort was led by a 22 point performance from freshman John-Michael Wright. Junior Denny Slay II also added 14 for the Panthers off the bench.

Senior Night got off to an appropriate start as senior Jamal Wright knocked down a three pointer for the first points of the contest, giving High Point the early 3-0 lead. Senior Cliff Thomas Jr. got in on the action early on, putting the Millis Center crowd on their feet with an emphatic dunk. The teams then traded buckets to give UNC Asheville the 9-8 lead at the under-16 media timeout.

An 8-0 Bulldogs run gave UNC Asheville a 17-10 lead, but High Point responded with a 5-0 run of their own to cut the deficit back to two. The game of runs continued as the Panthers went on an 8-0 run of their own to tie the game at 27 with just under seven minutes left in the half. John-Michael scored four of the eight points during the run and finished the first half with eight. Despite only scoring one point in the final four minutes of the half, High Point went into the half down seven, 39-32.

Freshman Eric Coleman Jr. got the second half started for the Panthers with a three pointer. An Asheville three pointer extended the Bulldogs lead to nine, 50-41, at the under-16 media timeout in the second half. A 9-4 run out of the timeout gave Asheville their first double digit lead of the night, 56-45. A jumper from Denny ended the scoreless drought for the Panthers before a Senior Night block from Thomas Jr. led to a Bryant Randleman layup at the other end to cut the deficit to single digits, 56-64, with just under seven minutes left in the game. Randleman finished the game with nine points, just short of his career high (11).

Consecutive jumpers from John-Michael and Jamal cut the Bulldogs lead to four. The teams went back and forth down the stretch. An Asheville turnover followed by an Emmanuel Izunabor putback on the fast break cut the Bulldogs lead to 74-71 with a minute and a half left in the contest. Another defensive stop by the Panthers and a John-Michael jumper cut the deficit to one (74-73) with 39.7 seconds left, but this would be the last field goal for either team. After the teams traded nine total free throws over the last 40 seconds, the Bulldogs were able to seal the deal at the line, the final score being 80-76. The Panthers comeback fell just short despite outscoring UNC Asheville by nine over the last 10 minutes of the game.

High Point concludes its regular season on Saturday (Feb. 29) as it travels to Rock Hill, S.C. to play Winthrop. Tipoff is set for 1:00 p.m. and can be streamed live on ESPN+.