HPU MBB Panthers Fall in Double Overtime to Furman in Tight Contest

HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team lost in double overtime to Furman 74-70 in an incredibly tight basketball game in which neither team ever led by double digits. It was the first double-overtime game of the season and the second game this year in which the Panthers have played an extra session. John-Michael Wright led the Panthers with 29 points, to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Wright was joined in double figures by Zack Austin who had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Emmanuel Izunabor also chipped in 11 points and 4 rebounds. Austin’s 6 blocks tonight increased him to 24 on the season, which puts him in a tie for 8th overall in the NCAA.

Coach Tubby Smith: “I thought our kids really fought hard. It was a battle from the beginning to the end. We started slow but we really came on and showed a lot of heart and a lot of hustle. Obviously, Furman is a very experienced team and their experience showed in the latter parts of the game where we had a chance to ice it in regulation and then in overtime but that is what veteran teams do, they find a way to stay in the game. They found a way to win, and we found a to lose it.”

Panther Particulars

The Panthers got off to a slow start and found themselves behind 8-1 at the first media timeout of the first half. However, the HPU offense had a mini-burst and went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 8-8 at the 13:15 minute mark. Austin buried a three with a hand in his face, Izunabor had a two-handed slam, and Bryant Randleman hit a driving layup for the Panthers.

The teams traded baskets and found themselves tied at 13 apiece at the 10:12 mark of the game after a pair of free throws by Austin and a triple by Jaden House.

Wright started to assert himself after the under-8 media timeout. Wright hit a step-back jumper and then after a huge block by Austin, Wright hit a trifecta with a hand in his face to tie the game at 18-18 at the 5:31 mark. Wright then hit an incredible three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to give the Panthers a 21-20 mark heading into the final media timeout.

Wright continued to lead the Panthers as he hit another difficult jump shot in the lane with a hand in his face to tie the game at 25-25 at the 1:15 mark. The Paladins added a free throw and took a 26-25 lead heading into the half. The Panthers shot 40% from three-point range while holding Furman to 28.1% from the field and 21.4% from three-point range.

The Panthers and Paladins battled to open the start of the second half with both teams trading baskets. The Panthers found themselves with a 34-33 lead at the 15:39 mark after an opening basket from Wright and ending with a sweet driving layup and one by House.

The game continued to be tightly contested with the teams going back and forth on the scoreboard. The Panthers found themselves down 42-41 after an acrobatic reverse layup by Wright at the under-12 media timeout.

After keeping another play alive with an offensive rebound, the Panthers took the lead 48-47 at the 7:15 mark after a put back by Izunabor. The Panthers then took their largest lead of the second half at 52-47 after driving a left-handed lay-in by Randleman and a reverse layup by Austin at the 5:01 mark.

The Panthers continued to hold onto their lead with a slam dunk inside by Izunabor and led 57-53 with 1:51 to go. After a free throw by House and a Paladins layup, the Panthers had the ball with 8.8 seconds left and held a 58-57 lead. Wright drew the foul and made the first free throw to give the Panthers a 59-57 lead. However, Furman scored in the final second to tie the game at 59-59 and send it to OT for the second time this season for the Panthers.

Both teams continued to fight hard in OT and the Panthers found themselves with a 63-31 lead with 2:41 remaining after a pair of free throws from Wright. The Panthers led 65-63 with 14 seconds remaining, but a Furman basket inside tied the game at 65-65 with 4.4 seconds remaining. Randleman drove down and shot a long jumper that just rimmed out and sent the game to double OT.

It was the longest game in the history of the Qubein Center as the contest was the first to enter double overtime in the short history of the new facility.

The Paladins scored the first 6 points of double overtime before a bucket by Wright cut the Furman lead to 71-67 with 22.7 seconds remaining. Furman hit two free throws, but a long 3-pointer by Wright cut the lead to 73-70 with 7.0 seconds remaining. However, a Furman make at the free-throw line and a missed three by Wright ended the game at 74-70 for a Furman win.

The Panthers finished with 10 blocks as a team and the game was incredibly close as evidenced by 10 ties and 14 lead changes.

UP NEXT: HPU will make the trek east to take on in-state foe Elon on Saturday, December 4th. Tip-off is set for 7 PM and the game will be streamed on FloSports ($).