Site: High Point, N.C. (Qubein Center)
Score: High Point 69, UNCW 71
Records: High Point (5-6), UNCW (5-6)
HIGH POINT, N.C. — High Point University men’s basketball’s gutsy comeback effort fell just short 71-69 in overtime to UNCW on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 18). The Panthers trailed by as many as 14 with less than 10 minutes to play in the game and were able to force overtime. John-Michael Wright led the way in scoring for HPU with 28 points. It was his second consecutive game scoring 28 points or more, he has scored 26 points or more in four of his last five contests. Zack Austin was the second Panther with double digits finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.
Tubby Smith: I have to give UNCW credit, Coach Siddle had them ready today and they made shots when it counted. I can’t say enough about John-Michael Wright he has the heart of a lion. He has put the team on his back, he has done everything possible to help us win games. Once again the biggest challenges we have had are rebounding and free-throw shooting. When you go 10-23 you are not going to win a lot of games that way. That in itself is a real issue.
Coach Smith on the comeback effort to push the game into overtime: We have shown this type of courage all year our problem is getting down by twelve, we should not put ourselves in that situation. I am encouraged by our effort. I told the team that I was proud of how we did not fold, we did not quit. That is one thing we have not done all year, we are still looking for a way to win the close ones, but we have shown the heart and the toughness that is needed. We must find a way to finish and close the game out.
A pair of baskets from Wright and one from House plus split free throws from Wright and Brock Williams put HPU up 8-5 with 14:15 to go in the first half.
An Alex Holt second effort bucket put HPU in front 10-9 with 11:49 to play in the first.
Austin made an incredible play as he finished a layup with his back almost completely to the basket after getting the ball in the paint with little time remaining on the shot clock. Austin’s first points of the game tied the contest at 15 with 7:37 to play in the first.
JMW was able to finish a fadeaway jumper amongst heavy coverage to keep HPU within five just two minutes before halftime.
Jaden House brought down a rebound on a UNCW missed free throw then drove it up the court with just five seconds remaining in the half and nailed a three at the buzzer. House brought his Panthers within three at the half making it 29-26 UNCW.
Wright started the half with an and-one as HPU looked to keep UNCW within reach. Four minutes after his first and-one in the second half, Wright earned another opportunity for a three-point play with 14:03 left in the second half bringing the score to 39-32.
With less than nine minutes remaining in regulation UNCW lead by 14.
An Austin jam brought the Seahawk to lead down to 12 with 8:34 left in the game. With 5:05 left in the second half, the Winston-Salem native slammed home a missed Panther layup. HPU battled back and it was a five-point game with 3:05 to play in the second half.
JMW hit a clutch three-pointer with 2:14 left to play to bring the UNCW lead down to only two (56-54).
After a Seahawk three, JMW was fouled as hit a three with 1:22 to play in the second half. Wright did not convert on the free throw, but UNCW turned the ball over on the next play and HPU had the ball with a minute remaining, trailing by just two.
After causing a five-second violation HPU got the ball back, Randleman drove to the basket with 10 seconds remaining as was fouled for the three-point play opportunity. He tied the game at 59. Randleman did not convert the free throw and the game went into overtime.
With 1:43 to go in OT Randleman drove again to the basket and was fouled as he scored this time completing the three-point play to put HPU up 66-65 with 1:33 to go.
With 20 seconds to go HPU found itself down three in overtime, JMW hit a huge three in the corner to tie the game at 69. UNCW would score in the final seconds to hold on and win 71-69 in overtime.
HPU will stay in High Point to host FAU on Tuesday, December 21st in what will be the last non-conference home game before the Panthers close non-conference play with two Power-5 games against Michigan State and Kentucky.