Site: Asheville, N.C. (Kimmel Arena)
Score: High Point 84, UNC Asheville 90
Records: High Point (1-4), 0-2 Big South), UNC Asheville (3-2), 2-0 Big South),
Next HPU Event: Saturday, December 19th VS William & Mary, 2:00 PM
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team fell to UNC Asheville in overtime 90-84 in the second game of HPU’s Big South conference opening weekend. For the fourth time in five games, John-Michael Wright led the Panthers in scoring with 22 points on the day. Lydell Elmore was second in scoring for HPU on Sunday with 13 points. Freshman Ahmil Flowers and Jaden House each finished with 11 points.
UNC Asheville got off to a fast start in the first half going on a 9-2 run in the first four minutes of the game. Wright brought the Panthers back into the game by scoring a quick five points to make it 9-5. After a stop, Wright found Eric Coleman Jr. who laid it in, bringing HPU within two. With 14:10 left Flowers stepped up in a big way for the Panthers. The freshman hit two free throws to tie the game at nine. After an HPU stop Flowers found Caden Sanchez who scored a lay-up to put HPU up two. HPU turned the Bulldogs over, and Flowers drove down the court and delivered a SportsCenter worthy posterizing slam to put HPU up four. (13-9). House continued his stellar play to give HPU a 15-9 lead. It was a 13-0 run for The Panthers in the first that shifted momentum on their side.
In the first half, the Panthers were able to extend their lead to as many as nine, which was the most either team led by throughout the game. A 7-0 run from UNCA brought the Bulldogs within two of HPU at the under eight media time out in the first half (20-18). Offensive rebounds and strong putbacks from Elmore kept the Panthers in the lead late into the first half. Coming out of the last media timeout of the first half High Point’s lead was only two. With less than two minutes to go in the half, the game was tied at 31. House scored a quick four points to lead HPU into the break, up 35-31 at the half.
Wright opened the second half for The Purple and White with a three-pointer, quickly getting himself into double digits. Wright’s triple extended the High Point lead to three, but The Bulldogs would come back with a quick 8-2 run to put themselves up. For about eight minutes the two sides went back and forth with the lead never growing bigger than two possessions.
With ten minutes left and the game tied at 56, UNC Asheville made their move and went on a 9-0 run to put themselves up 65-56 with 7:28 to go. Wright scored a quick five points for The Panthers to bring HPU within five. Elmore used a hook shot to cut the Bulldog lead to two, a pair of threes from UNC Asheville put the Bulldogs back up six despite a three from High Point’s House. Two Wright free throws and a Flowers three-pointer placed HPU just down one (71-70) with 3:25 left to play.
After two missed UNC Asheville free throws Wright was fouled and made the first free throw to tie the game at 71 with 2:36 remaining. Wright missed the second free throw. On the other end, two Bulldog free throws put UNC Asheville up two with less than two minutes to play. Coleman was fouled during the Panther possession and made both free throws to tie the game at 73. HPU made two quality stops that prevented the Bulldogs from scoring. With seven seconds left in regulation, the Panthers had one more opportunity, a Wright long-range two-pointer just missed. With the game tied at 73, the contest went into overtime.
UNC Asheville opened up overtime with a three to go up 76-73. Emmanuel Izunabor quickly answered with a lay-up which brought the Bulldog deficit to one. Izunabor finished with eight points on the day. UNC Asheville used a 7-3 run to extend their lead to 83-76 with less than two minutes to play in overtime. Two Wright makes and a Sanchez lay-up made it a six-point game with 23 seconds to play as UNC Asheville tried to extend their lead. After his made basket, Wright stole the ball away and passed it to Elmore who sunk a hook shot to put HPU within four with 14 seconds left in overtime. A foul put the Bulldogs on the line and both free throws were made.
Wright led the way for HPU with 22 points on the day, it was the sophomore’s fourth game out of five with at least 20 points. He is averaging 22 points per game and has 110 points on the season just five games in. Elmore finished with 13 points, this was the third straight game Elmore has scored in double digits. Sunday’s game marked HPU’s first overtime game of the season.
UP NEXT: High Point travels to Williamsburg, Va. on Saturday (Dec.19) to face William & Mary at 2:00 PM.