Panthers pull away from Wolves in women's opener
Given the chance, the High Point University women’s basketball team seized the opportunity and pulled away for a 79-58 season-opening victory over Newberry College at the Millis Center on Saturday.
The opening came when the Wolves’ top two players ran into foul trouble early in the second half.
The Panthers were up just 42-40 when Newberry’s center and Division II All-America candidate Haylee Lepaio picked up her fourth foul with 18:08. The second blow for the Wolves came a little over two minutes later when forward Samantha Creed, who had 20 points to that point, picked up her fourth.
Attacking the middle of the Newberry defense, the Panthers scored 14 of the next 18 points to build a 58-44 lead. The Wolves never got back in sync after Creed returned at the 11:30 mark and Lepaio returned at the 10:15 mark as the Panthers pulled away and eventually led by 22.
“After they went out, we were in the huddle saying we have to separate ourselves now,” HPU coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “It was our game plan to go at Lepaio and get her out. But, fortunately we got Creed in foul trouble also.”
The Panthers got separation thanks to Tayler Tremblay hitting two foul shots after Creed’s fourth foul, reserve guard Kaylah Keys driving for one jumper and a layup, Stacia Robertson hitting a point-blank hook and Trembly hitting a jumper and driving for a layup to make it 58-44
The run was sparked by the Panthers hitting 8 of their first 12 shot of the half on the way to making 18 of 30 in the final 20 minutes and finishing 32 of 62 for the game.
“They got into foul trouble so we just kept attacking and kept being aggressive,” Keys said.
Robertson led the Panthers with 19 points that included 13 in the first half. Keys added 15 and DeAnneisha Jackson had 10.
Creed never scored after picking up her fourth foul and finished with 20 points after torching the Panthers for 18 in the first half.
“She was unstoppable the first half,” Hendrix said. “I think we had everyone on her at some point. It was relieving to see her go out with foul trouble. And then we locked down and defended her and tried to deny her the ball.”
HPU jumped to an early 10-point lead at 16-6, hitting 6 of its first 12 shots as Robertson scored 10 points while Newberry made just 2 of its first 11.
But the Wolves quickly closed to within four, used a better transition game to get as close as two and were down six at the half.
“We weren’t talking on defense and weren’t stopping them in transition like we know how,” Keys said. They turned up the defense to force 22 turnovers. HPU turned it over 16 times while having 16 assists and were outrebounded 34-33.
The Panther travel to Virginia on Monday and return home to play USC Upstate on Wednesday. The game was an exhibition contest for Newberry, which opens its regular season at Morris College on Tuesday.