HPU women look for answers on defense
There is one thing for certain that High Point University women’s basketball coach DeUnna Hendrix will be looking for her team to do much better when it opens Big South Conference play tonight against Longwood at the Millis Center.
That would be play better defense, particularly transition defense, following the inability to slow down the opposition in the second half of two straight losses which have dropped HPU to 4-3.
In the first setback, UNCG torched the Panthers for 65 percent second-half shooting in pulling out a 81-79 victory on Sunday. That was followed by Furman shooting 55 percent, zipping to the bucket on fast breaks and canning 3s, in coming from nine down in the second half and rolling to a 76-67 victory.
The lack of defense more than offset HPU pulling down 24 offensive rebounds on the way to a 48-36 advantage on the boards against the Paladins.
“We finally outrebounded somebody by a significant margin,” Hendrix said. “But the thing is, you can’t just rebound. You’ve got to get back and defend. You can’t let somebody shoot 55 percent in the second half and 49 percent overall. That means we are not playing defense.”
The lack of stops came after the Panthers worked on defense following the UNCG loss.
Four players scorched HPU. Erica Norwood went 8 of 12 on the way to 22 points before suffering a leg injury in the final minute. Holli Wilkins was 5 for 9, Brittany Hodges was 5 for 8 and Sarah Durdaller was 4 for 8.
“It looked like it was shooting practice for them,” Hendrix said. “We didn’t communicate. Our transition defense was not very good for the second straight game, and that’s all we worked on for a week. But the good thing is we have a conference game on Friday as an opportunity to right the ship.”
The hot shooting helped Furman go from a seven-point deficit with 10:30 left to an 11-point lead with just over 30 seconds to play.
“Our transition defense, all you have to do is communicate with each other,” Hendrix said. “We’re getting to the ball late, and people are doing what they want to do, and we’re not dictating at any point. At some point, you’ve got to turn the tide and we haven’t the past two games.”
And while Furman was hot, the Panthers shot just 34 percent in the second half, thanks in part to getting three and four shots per possession at times without scoring.
“I think we kept anticipating contact when there wasn’t any,” Hendrix said. “We did a great job on the offensive boards but we couldn’t put anything back. I don’t know what it was.”