HPU women rally, clinch share of Big South crown
The High Point University women’s basketball team took sole possession of first place in the Big South Conference with a 74-71 win at Winthrop on Thursday night. The Panthers have guaranteed themselves at least a share of the Big South regular season title and are locked into the No. 1 seed in the Big South Conference Tournament.
“I challenged the team at halftime,” said HPU head coach DeUnna Hendrix. “I was disappointed with the energy and I didn’t think we worked hard enough in the first half. I never doubted this team’s ability to come back. Every person made a big play in the second half. They played with belief and unity to win the game.”
High Point is guaranteed at least a share of the Big South Conference regular season title with the win. The Panthers can clinch the championship with a win at Radford on Saturday.
High Point held a 72-71 with nine seconds left. Dequesha McClanahan brought the ball down the floor and traveled when Stacia Robertson stepped in to defend her. Winthrop tried to stop the inbound pass but Lindsay Puckett got the ball ahead to Latrice Phelps who was wide open just over half court and went down to score the insurance basket.
Freshman Kaylah Keys led the team with 18 points and Robertson added 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Puckett added 11 points and Phelps chipped in 10 points and four steals.
Winthrop led by 15 with two minutes left in the opening half. Ashante Richard scored the final four points of the half to cut the lead to 38-27 at the break.
Puckett drained three-straight three pointers to open up a five-point lead with 8:47. Winthrop countered with a 10-0 run, taking a 59-54 lead on a pair of Tiffany Charles free throws. With 1:35 to play Keys stole the ball at half court and scored on a fast break layup to Winthrop’s lead to 69-68. Richard found Robertson down low for a layup to give HPU the lead 70-69. After a Phelps jumper, McClanahan went all the way down for a layup and HPU held a 72-71 advantage with 33 seconds to play.
Robertson’s great defense forced the McClanahan turnover that led to Phelps’ layup with four seconds left to seal the victory.
High Point closes the regular season on Saturday at Radford. The game will tip at 2 p.m. HPU beat the Highlanders 73-62 at the Millis Center on Jan. 23.