HPU WBB Panthers Claw Back to Defeat Camels

Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 63, Campbell 55
Records: HPU 6-4 (4-1 Big South), CU 5-3 (2-1 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 — vs. Campbell (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 6 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team erased a 12-point deficit late in the first half to come from behind and defeat Campbell University in the first game of a two-game Big South Conference series between the two schools Monday evening (Jan. 4). Three Panthers scored in double digits, led by junior Skyler Curran with 13, and 10 different members of the Purple and White registered a point in a total team win against the preseason conference favorites.

“It felt good to get out of here with a win,” head coach Chelsea Banbury said following the team’s fourth consecutive victory. “I thought we got off to a slow start in the first quarter but I’m proud of how our team responded. We battled and made the 10-point game in the first half a five-point game at halftime and I challenged the team to come out and tie it up in the second half and they did just that. We came out with energy to start the second half and that’s when we made our biggest run and I honestly believe that was the biggest difference in the game. Cyd [Johnson] has been getting better and better each game. She was huge for us in the post and battled on defense in a position she hasn’t guarded much this season and she stepped up. Offensively, she was able to get to the rim and knock down some shots as well. It was definitely a team win and I’m happy with how we came out.”

High Point didn’t get quite the start it wanted to in the game, coming out and shooting just 23.1% in the first quarter to Campbell’s 52.9%, the best shooting percentage a team has had in the first quarter against HPU all season long. The Fighting Camels held a 19-10 advantage after the first 10 minutes, with turnovers playing a key role in High Point’s deficit. HPU committed six turnovers in the opening frame that helped Campbell score eight straight points in the opening half of the quarter to build its lead.

Campbell pushed its lead to double digits for the first time in the opening minute of the second quarter but a triple from Claire Wyatt cut it back down to eight. The lead climbed back to 10 twice more in the first five minutes of the second but another three from Wyatt and one from classmate LaImani Simmons kept HPU’s deficit to single digits. The Fighting Camels were able to take a 12-point lead, their largest of the night, with just over three minutes left before High Point mounted a small comeback in the closing minutes of the half.

Redshirt junior Zaria Wright started the run by slashing to the basket for a layup with 2:25 left in the half. It took almost two minutes for another score to happen but a pair of free throws from redshirt sophomore Jenson Edwards and a jumper in the paint from Simmons made it a two-possession game at 31-25 with the shot clock off for the remainder of the half. Jordan Edwards was fouled in the closing seconds of the half after picking up a steal in the offensive end and the junior hit one of her two free throws to send High Point into the break down five, 31-26.

HPU was energized after its seven-point run to end the half and came out in the second looking for more. The Panthers were successful, turning the 7-0 run into a 17-2 stretch in the first three minutes of the third. Curran checked back into the game to start the half and had the hot hand, scoring the Purple and White’s first seven points to tie the game up and give High Point its first lead since two minutes into the game. Campbell finally got on the board in the half two minutes in, but redshirt sophomore Cydney Johnson picked up her first points of the game and Jenson Edwards connected on a free throw to give the Panthers a three-point, 36-33, lead with 6:52 showing on the clock.

The Fighting Camels retook the lead after two empty possessions for the Panthers but Johnson drilled a pair of triples to give her eight in the quarter and give High Point another three-point lead. HPU extended it to as much as five after Courtney Meadows knocked down an inside jumper but that was as big as it got in the third. Campbell hit two free throws with 30 seconds left in the quarter and then benefitted from the ball taking a weird bounce off a High Point defender and going into the Panther’s basket to cut HPU’s lead to one, 44-43, heading into the final quarter.

Monday’s game was shaping up to be a showdown to the final second in a repeat of the last meeting between the two squads but the Panthers were not about to let the lead slip. It grew to five again after shrinking to one when Jenson Edwards connected from the stripe and then sophomore Callie Scheier hit her first long ball of the game.

The game wavered between a one-possession and two-possession affair throughout most of the fourth, with Campbell cutting the lead to as little as two, 56-54, with 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Curran hit both of her free throws from the stripe to make it a four-point game and then Johnson got behind the defense for the basket that broke the Camels’ backs to put High Point up six with 33 seconds to play. The redshirt freshman finished with 12 points in the game, her second game in the last three that she’s scored in double digits.

Campbell only managed one free throw after Johnson’s field goal and free throws from Jenson Edwards, getting her to double digits for the fourth straight game and eighth time this season with 10 points, and one from Scheier at the tail-end of the game gave High Point the 63-55 victory and ended Campbell’s perfect season in Big South play. Edwards came close to notching her second double-double of the season, finishing with eight rebounds to tie for the team lead with Wyatt, and had six assists to lead the team in that category as well.

High Point shot at least 40% in every quarter except the first, shooting a combined 45.7% over the final three quarters. The Panthers’ defense also stepped up after the first, holding Campbell to shooting just over 30% in that same stretch and never better than 33% in any of the final three quarters. HPU’s defense also forced three turnovers in the final 30 minutes of the game and only allowed two makes on 17 attempts from beyond the arc in the entire contest. The win was Banbury’s first over the Fighting Camels and leaves Gardner-Webb as the only Big South foe the second-year head coach has yet to defeat.

High Point and Campbell are right back at it in the Millis Center tomorrow evening (Jan. 5) for another 6 p.m. tip. Then the Panthers hit the road again for a pair of games against Winthrop in Rock Hill, S.C. on Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 9-10) before taking a week off with their scheduled Big South bye week.