HPU WBB: Strong Shooting Secures Sweep of Spartans

Site: Spartanburg, S.C. (G.B. Hodge Center)
Score: High Point 70, USC Upstate 48
Records: HPU 5-4 (3-1 Big South), UPST 3-6 (1-3 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Monday, January 4, 2021 — vs. Campbell (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 6 p.m.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team made it three wins in a row Thursday afternoon (Dec. 31) with a 70-48 victory over USC Upstate, securing the series sweep between the two Big South opponents. The Panthers enjoyed their best day of shooting all season, hitting 52.0% of their shots and going 16-34 from behind the arc with Skyler Curran, Jenson Edwards, and Callie Scheier all connecting on four triples, matching career-bests for Edwards and Scheier.

“I’m happy to complete the road sweep. Like I mentioned yesterday, you need to get some wins on the road in conference and we were able to get two,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said after the win. “Upstate played hard and crashed the boards on us. That’s something that we’re going to have to clean up and get tougher on and have all five of our players on the court rebounding. They did step up and challenge us in that way but fortunately we shot the ball well today. Aside from the fourth quarter, we were shooting it really well and that was enough to give us a big lead in the first half and we were able to hold onto it throughout the second.”

High Point’s three-point attack started early, with seven of the Panthers’ eight makes in the first quarter coming from behind the arc. Curran tickled the twine from deep a trio of times in the opening 10 minutes and Scheier hit from deep twice. Jenson Edwards and Cydney Johnson each hit a triple and Jordan Edwards slashed her way to the basket for HPU’s lone inside make.

The Panthers held Upstate to just four makes from the floor and eight total points in the opening quarter, outshooting the Spartans 57.1% to 25.0%. High Point led by one, 7-6 just under three minutes into the game but ended the quarter on a dominant 17-2 run to lead 24-8 after one. The Purple and White went 5-8 from downtown during that stretch and allowed the Spartans just one basket in their final 12 attempts of the quarter.

High Point continued to stay hot from the floor in the second quarter, improving on its shooting percentage to shoot 58.3% in the quarter to give HPU a 57.7% shooting percentage at halftime. The Panthers’ lead didn’t dip to single digits during the second quarter and the closest it came was 12 points, 30-18, with four minutes left in the half. High Point quickly increased its lead after that point, going on an 11-2 stretch in the final three minutes of the opening half to lead 41-20 heading into the locker room.

The Panthers hit three straight three-pointers on the run – a pair from Jenson Edwards with one from Scheier sandwiched in between. Edwards finished the first half with 12 points and three assists, tied for the most helpers on the team with Jordan Edwards. Curran led the team in points at the break, scoring 13 in the opening 20 minutes. Scheier was right behind Curran and Edwards with nine points in the half, all coming from behind the arc.

HPU continued to attack from deep to start the second half, with Curran and Scheier each hitting triples in the first two minutes of the third. High Point only hit four more shots from the floor in the quarter, but three of them came from deep in the final three-and-a-half minutes. Jenson Edwards knocked one home before redshirt sophomore Zaria Wright followed suit on HPU’s next possession. Graduate student Miya Bull had the Purple and White’s final three-pointer of the quarter, connecting with 45 seconds left in the half for her second long ball of the season.

High Point continued to improve its shooting in the third, going 6-10 for 60% and its best shooting percentage in a quarter of Thursday’s game. The Panthers also held Upstate to just 4-13 from the floor in the third for 30.8% and took a 58-34 lead into the final quarter of 2020.

The Purple and White’s offense struggled a bit in the fourth, only shooting 35.7% in the quarter to Upstate’s 40%. Bull got inside for a layup just over a minute into the quarter and HPU didn’t find the hoop again until halfway through when Chyna McMichel picked up her second basket of the game and followed it up with her first triple of the season. The senior finished with seven points and blocked four shots, bringing her series total against Upstate to nine blocks.

Despite High Point’s worst shooting percentage of the game in the fourth and being outscored by the Spartans, the lead was enough for HPU to easily pick up the sweep with a 70-48 victory. The Panthers shot 52% in the game, the second time this season that HPU has shot above 50% and the team’s best shooting percentage since connecting on 54.7% of its shots against Longwood on Feb. 26, 2019.

HPU will ring in the new year with a pair of games against Big South preseason favorites Campbell on Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 4 and 5) at the Millis Center, with both games slated to tip at 6 p.m.