Site: Boiling Springs, N.C. (Paul Porter Arena)
Score: High Point 59, Gardner-Webb 55
Records: High Point (5-9), 3-6 Big South, Gardner Webb (6-10), 5-6 Big South
Next HPU Event: Friday, January 30th vs. Gardner Webb (Paul Porter Arena), 5:00 PM
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — The High Point University Men’s basketball team picked up a key Big South victory on Friday night (Jan. 29) over Gardner Webb 59-55. Lydell Elmore led HPU in scoring on the night with a game-high 17 points. Freshman Alex Holt saw his first career start on Friday night and nearly brought in a double-double as he scored 12 points and brought down eight rebounds. John-Michael Wright scored 11 points in the first road conference win of the season for HPU.
“I thought our kids showed a lot of courage and a lot of heart especially down the stretch,” Coach Tubby Smith said. “I thought John Michael came through with a big shot at the end and we got some big stops. Bryant making those two free throws was huge and the play from Lydell. We did a better job on the boards tonight and when we rebound the ball we give ourselves a chance.”
The Panthers opened up the game by pressuring the Runnin’ Bulldogs and jumping out to a 7-3 lead out of the gate. Denny Slay II hit the first three of the contest to put HPU up four. Gardner Webb came storming back and made it 11-10 with 11:22 to go. With 8:53 to go in the first half, Wright scored four quick points to the Panthers in front 18-13. It looked like the Panthers were going to take a little bit of a lead into the break with a 1:49 to play and the score at 26-22. Gardner-Webb hit a three to make it a one-point game. The Panthers answered as Holt slammed one down with two hands to go up 28-25. Wright hit a three-pointer at the end of the half to put the Panthers up six at halftime.
In the first half alone, Holt scored eight points and five rebounds the freshman took full advantage of his first collegiate starting opportunity.
“Alex gives us a lot of poise, he does not try to do much, Coach Smith said. “He does what we ask him to do. He’s got great hands, he got baptized tonight by a very good team on the road and he pulled through for us. He got huge rebounds and had a big stop for us at the end.”
The Panther lead did not grow to be bigger than six in the second half and Gardner-Webb stayed engaged in the game and continued to fight their way back into the game. With 10:41 to go in the second half, the game was tied at 45. Slay hit a jumper that bumped the High Point lead back up two. The Runnin’ Bulldogs answered and the game continued to follow this pattern to the end. With 6:10 left Gardner-Webb took the lead by one, 50-49. With 3:14 to go in the game, a Wright jumper gave the panthers a 53-50 lead. A three-pointer from Gardner-Webb tied the game at 53-53. Two Holt free throws put HPU up 55-53. With 14 seconds left to play Bryant Randleman hit both free throws to put HPU up three. He would secure the win for the Purple and White 59-55.
The Panthers brought the intensity on defense in game one turning Gardner-Webb over 12 times.
UP NEXT: The Panthers stay in Boiling Springs for game two against the Runnin’ Bulldogs on Saturday at 5:00 PM. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.