Site: Rock Hill, S.C. (Rock Hill Sports & Events Center)
Score: High Point 66, South Carolina State 67
Records: High Point (5-5), South Carolina State (3-6)
ROCK HILL, S.C. — The High Point University Men’s Basketball team fell in a one-point contest to South Carolina State 67-66 in the first game of the No Room for Racism Classic at the new Rock Hill Sports & Events Center. John-Michael Wright led the way in scoring for HPU with a 26-point performance. Zack Austin joined JMW in scoring at least 20 points as he added just that amount. The Bulldogs stopped HPU’s spirited comeback at the end of the game in the final moments to win by one.
Coach Tubby Smith: “I thought we just got outplayed and outcoached in every facet of the game. We battled back, but they outrebounded us which is always a signal that we are not playing hard and not playing smart. Our free-throw shooting once again killed us, even though we went 15-22 some crucial free throws could’ve at least tied the game. Our three-point shooting was not very good. With the play we ran at the end they did a good job forcing John-Michael to take a tough shot but we have to be able to find the other people who are open. We will sit down and figure it out. I know we are a little short on the bench right now and not getting the production we had hoped for. There are a lot of things we are going to work on but again my hat is off to South Carolina State, they found a way to win, and we found a way to lose.”
South Carolina State opened the game with a 10-7 lead six minutes into the contest. Austin hit a three that tied the game at 10 and then another Panther three but HPU up 13-10 with 12:30 left in the first.
HPU battled and were in a five-point game at halftime with South Carolina State. The Bulldogs took a 35-30 lead into the break. Wright had 13 points in the first half.
Austin came up big for HPU as the Panthers tried to mount a comeback.
South Carolina State led by as many as 14 with 9:19 left in the second half. HPU was able to dig into the Bulldog lead. Austin recorded a basket which made it a three-point game with 17:23 to play.
As the Bulldogs tried to pull away, HPU stayed engaged and continued to work away at the South Carolina State lead. Austin scored and was fouled with 12:18 to play in the game which made the score 50-42.
When the Bulldogs lead grew to its largest of the night 14 points with 9:19 left the Panthers were able to keep the deficit around ten before getting the Bulldog lead down to single digits with 5:44 to go thanks to a Rob Peterson III tip-in.
Peterson came up big again with an offensive board and then a put-back to bring the score to 64-58 as South Carolina State then only led by six.
A JMW three-point play after a driving layup and a foul dropped the Bulldog lead to just four (61-65) with 3:50 to play.
Austin hit a huge three with 2:04 left to play bringing his Panthers within one (67-66).
Despite allowing the Panthers to go to the free-throw line twice in the last two minutes of the game, South Carolina State held on to win 67-66.
The Panthers take a break for exams for a week then get right back into it on Saturday, December 18th inside the Qubein Center as UNCW comes to town.