Site: Elon, N.C. (Schar Center)
Score: High Point 83, Elon 77
Records: High Point (4-4), Elon (2-6)
ELON, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team defeated Elon on the road 83-77 to secure its fourth win of the season. John-Michael Wright led the way for HPU in the key road win over the Phoenix with a 29-point performance. The Panthers had two twenty-point scorers on the night as Zack Austin added 20 points in the win. Emmanuel Izunabor was the third Panther in double digits with 12 points. It was the least number of turnovers the Panthers have had all season long as HPU took care of the ball only being turned over seven times at Elon.
Coach Tubby Smith: It was a good win for us, it was a hard-fought game. Mike Schrage does a super job; his teams are always well prepared. I thought tonight our guys had a sense of urgency. Unbelievable performance from John-Michael we are getting used to that kind of performance from him. Watson stepped up for them and was unbelievable we could not really stop him even at the end he found a way to get the ball and draw a foul. I was impressed with the way we took care of the ball tonight. We did an adequate job on the boards, and we made our free throws down the stretch. If we could just stop fouling, we would be an even better team.”
To start the game, Austin had a layup count after Phoenix goaltending then, House nailed a triple after the Panther secured an offensive rebound to put HPU up 5-0. The run caused Elon to use an early time-out less than three minutes into the game.
Elon started to answer but HPU mounted a response as Austin hit a three yet again coming off an offensive rebound then Izunabor scored a layup to put HPU up 11-7.
The Panthers quickly made it 15-7 after Austin stole the ball away from Elon and finished with a slam on the other end with 9:22 left in the first half.
High Point turned defense into offense yet again as Alex Holt made a steal and followed it up with a dunk of his own to make it 20-12 with 7:00 to play in the first.
A pair of threes kept Elon in the hunt. The Phoenix were back within two with 5:15 to play. JMW made a three then Izunabor followed that up with a thunderous slam to give HPU a seven-point lead.
Elon tried to narrow the Panther lead, but HPU found ways to stay in front to close the half. JMW hit a three-pointer with a little over a minute left to play in the first half, he was fouled as he was shooting. He went to the line and completed the four-point play. HPU took a 40-32 lead into the break.
High Point started the second half on a high note. Bryant Randleman fed Austin for an alley-oop that brought the Panther bench to its feet and supplied HPU with a twelve-point lead less than a minute into the second half.
Elon went on an 11-2 run to make it a three-point game, 46-43 with 16:20 to play. Wright came down a buried a three to put HPU up six 49-43.
As the Phoenix fought to stay in the game HPU searched for ways to pull away, Izunabor went up with two hands and laid it in to put his Panthers up 57-51 with 11:56 remaining.
With under ten to play, HPU found a quick six points as Wright and Austin hit back-to-back threes to put HPU in front 66-59 with 8:27 left in the game.
Izunabor finished strong in the paint with 3:16 remaining, the junior went up strongly as several Phoenix collapsed on him but it was too late as he finished strong and scored to give HPU a 72-66 lead with around three minutes to play.
With HPU leading 76-71 and less than a minute to play Elon caused a turnover on the Panther inbound. Wright and Randleman immediately trapped the Phoenix player and Wright was able to poke the ball away and win it back. Wright was fouled. He split the free throws and gave the Purple & White a 77-71 lead.
The Panthers went on to win 83-77. This is the third straight season HPU and Elon have faced each other. The 2019 matchup between the two teams marked the first HPU-Elon game since 2006. Since reconnecting in 2019 HPU has won two out of the last three contests against Elon.
HPU returns home to the Qubein Center on Tuesday, December 7th to host long-time triad opponent Guilford. Prior to the game, HPU will honor former Guilford Basketball coach and legendary High Point basketball coach and athletic director Jerry Steele.