Sizzling Sycamores burn Panthers, 76-62
Even without Larry Bird walking through the door of the Hulman Center on Sunday afternoon, the Indiana State Sycamores still delivered a sizzling shooting display that their greatest basketball alumnus would have been proud of.
The Sycamores made every one of their six three-point tries in the second half and shot 66.7 percent (10-for-15) from distance in the game to upend High Point 76-62 on Sunday, dropping the Panthers to 3-2.
At High Point’s expense, ISU guard Lucas Eitel lived a shooter’s dream, scoring on all nine of his field goal attempts to pace the Sycamores with a career-high 25 points. He finished a perfect seven-for-seven from beyond the arc, nailing three daggers in the early minutes of the second half that lifted the Sycamores into a lead they would not relinquish.
“It was a tale of two halves,” High Point coach Scott Cherry said shortly after his team could not hang on to its 32-30 lead at the break. “We didn’t come out with the same defensive intensity that we had in the first half and let them get some easy ones. You let a team shoot 70 percent from the field [in the second half,] it’d be hard to beat anybody no matter if you’re at home or on the road.”
The Panthers led at the halftime despite redshirt-freshman forward John Brown picking up his second foul just 3:40 into game. Having entered the game averaging more than 20 points per contest, Brown saw fewer than four minutes of first half action. But with others stepping up, Adam Weary’s basket with four seconds left broke the eighth tie of the game to give the Panthers a 32-30 edge.
“Our bench did a great job in the first half,” said Cherry. Weary finished with 12 points off the bench on five-of-seven shooting, while DeJaun McGaughy added 10 points to help HPU’s bench outscore Indiana State’s 35-30 in the matchup.
The Panthers scored the first hoop of the second half, but the Sycamores swiftly raced on a 13-2 run, capitalizing on High Point’s defensive letdowns, a fact that Cherry emphasized postgame.
“Offensively, we weren’t great in the second half, but I think we were good enough if we had gotten some more stops and made it tougher for them to score,” he said. “We had the game plan; it was working. In the first half, we were up two. You just need to execute the same game plan in the second half, and we didn’t do it.”
Khristian Smith dropped 18 points off the Indiana State (4-1) bench to complement Eitel’s sharpshooting, while Sycamore point guard Jake Odum distributed effectively, filling the stat sheet with seven points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Brown crept into double figures with 10 points for HPU, while Corey Law added eight off the pine.
High Point’s two-game road swing through the Midwest continues on Thursday night when the Panthers take on Western Michigan at 7 p.m.