Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 108, North Carolina Wesleyan 71
Records: HPU 2-2 (0-0 Big South), NCWC 2-1 (0-0 USA South),
Next HPU Event: Wednesday, December 16 — vs. Liberty (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 6 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point’s offense was firing on all cylinders on Wednesday evening (Dec. 9) in a 108-71 victory for the High Point University women’s basketball team over North Carolina Wesleyan College. The win brings the Panthers back up to .500 on the season and was the most points scored in the Banbury-era of High Point women’s basketball.
The 108 points are the third-most points scored in a single-game in HPU’s Division I history, three shy of matching the second-best total of 111 from the first time the teams met. The combined score of 179 points is the sixth-highest game in High Point history, and combining the Purple and White’s last two games (this one with the 87-65 victory over NC Central on Monday) make the highest point total in two consecutive games in program history.
High Point got the job done in a completely different method than on Monday’s win, opting for the long ball on Wednesday and going 18-38 from three-point land for the most triples this season and only two shy of the program record. Junior Skyler Curran was lights out from range, going 9-12 from behind the arc for 31 points to set a new career-best for three-pointers made, one behind the program record, and matching her career-best for points in a single game.
“I’m happy that we got a win tonight,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the win. “There’s definitely some things I thought we could clean up, but I give Wesleyan credit. They came in and played hard and played hard to the very end of the game. Offensively, I was happy with what we did. Overall, I’m happy and you can’t take wins for granted.
The Panthers came out of the gates red hot, knocking down each of their first four shots, all from behind the arch. Redshirt sophomore Jenson Edwards got the game started with the first triple in the opening minute of the game. Curran knocked down a pair after that, with a corner trey from freshman Claire Wyatt assisted by Curran sandwiched between Curran’s two.
“It’s always nice to see when you come out and make shots because you feel like when you spend time on it in practice it’s worth it and you get a return on investment,” Banbury said of the team’s start. “I think it also helped our players get excited to see shots falling and that it’s working. Sky came out and shot threes from the start and Jenson shot extremely well so I was happy with that.”
High Point scored 17 of the game’s first 19 points to take an early 17-2 lead three minutes in. The Battling Bishops held true to their name and battled back, pulling within five points with just over a minute remaining. The teams traded triples in the final minute, with Curran and Edwards each connecting for HPU, and the Purple and White ended the quarter up seven, 28-21.
Both teams shot 50% in the first 10 minutes, but the difference maker came behind the arc, with the Panthers connecting on six of their 11 attempts while Wesleyan attempted only three, hitting on two of them.
HPU opened the second quarter with another big run, going 16-2 in the first three minutes. It was once again through the deep ball for the Panthers, with High Point hitting four triples during the run, part of another six-triple quarter.
Edwards knocked one down nine seconds into the second, followed by a pair on back-to-back possessions from Curran with a Wyatt layup in between. Wesleyan finally scored two minutes in, but then an inside layup from senior Chyna McMichel and Curran’s fourth triple of the night finished out High Point’s run. The Panthers’ offense cooled down a bit after that, but Curran stayed hot from deep, hitting her sixth three-pointer of the game to pull within one of her career-high with five minutes remaining in the half.
NCWC tried to gain a little momentum late in the second half of the quarter, going on an 8-2 run to cut High Point’s lead to 15. Sophomore Callie Scheier responded for the Panthers, picking up a steal, taking it to the other end, and getting the bucket and the foul for the three-point play with 30 seconds remaining. Scheier scored three more points for the Panthers before the half was over, knocking down a corner three with two seconds showing on the clock to give HPU a 57-36 lead at the break.
It didn’t take long for Curran to pick up her seventh triple and match her career-high as she knocked yet another one down to open the second half. A 12-2 Panther run followed, capped off by yet another triple by Curran to set a new career-high and move into second place on High Point’s single-game list for three-pointers made.
High Point’s defense put the clamps on midway through the quarter and didn’t let Wesleyan score for the final five minutes of the third. The Panthers closed out the quarter on a 16-0 run to take an 88-46 lead into the fourth. Curran tallied her ninth and final triple and points of the game early in the run to give her 31 points in the game to match her career-high from last season’s game at NC Central. Freshman LaImani Simmons played a key role in the run at the end of the quarter, scoring six of her 11 points during it.
The Panthers eased off the gas a little bit in the fourth, cruising to the 108-71 victory. Redshirt freshman Cydney Johnson carried the load for the offense in the beginning of the fourth, scoring eight points in the first half of the quarter, including a triple to get HPU to 99 points. The Purple and White crossed the century mark for the 10th time in their D1 history shortly after when Simmons connected on an inside jumper. Simmons was at the line with just under a minute remaining in the contest and made the front end of her two free throws but got her own rebound and found classmate Teegan Pifher behind the three-point line for Pifher’s first collegiate points and High Point’s final score of the game.
HPU has a week off before its next game, hosting former Big South rival Liberty next Wednesday (Dec. 16) for another 6 p.m. tip at the Millis Center to round out non-conference action.