HPU women overpower Bluefield
At less than full strength, the High Point University women’s basketball team still had too much power for overmatched Bluefield State.
With starting guard Erin Reynolds and starting forward Stacia Robertson sidelined by injuries suffered Monday at Xavier, the Panthers posted a 79-44 victory over the NAIA Rams, bringing to an end a string of three lopsided losses.
“It’s the most we’ve jelled on the season,” Panthers coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “Everybody did what they did well and it jelled. We weren’t trying to force anything and we played as unit.”
The unit at the start included Lindsay Puckett starting in place of preseason all-Big South pick Reynolds and Jazmin Cromarite at forward in place of Robertson. Reynolds wasn’t at the game as she recovers from a concussion that was her second since early September. Robertson was on the bench in a sweat suit while nursing a sprained ankle.
They played well enough to jump to score the first seven points of the game and never let the lead drop below three, that at 11-8 with 15:19 left in the first half. HPU scored the next 10 points, led by 15 at the half and played their most consistent stretch when they put together a 23-6 run to go up 66-34 with 8:40 left. The Panthers’ biggest lead was 36.
Puckett led HPU with 15 points and also grabbed seven rebounds and dished five assists in her first career start after playing in 29 games last season as a freshman. She said she found out at a Sunday morning shootaround that she would be starting.
“We clicked more than we have been and when Erin and Stacia come back, it will be better,” Puckett said.
Cheyenne Parker added a double-double. She grabbed 17 rebounds but was limited to 13 points as she hit just 6 of 16 shots, frustrated by the Rams’ double teaming.
“They took me out of my game so I started finding my teammates,” said Parker, who had four assists, blocked six shots and grabbed four steals.
Tori Cook added 13 points off the bench on 5 of 7 shooting, hitting a couple of buckets during an early surge and adding a couple more just before the half. Lexi Patterson had 10 points and Cromartie grabbed 10 rebounds.
Hendrix substituted freely. Of the nine players who saw action, eight played 15 minutes or more and only point guard Tayler Tremblay logged more than 30.
The Panthers held Bluefield to 18 of 70 shooting (25.7 per cent) but was streaky on offense, shooting just 16 of 45 in the first half and finishing 34 of 83 for the game.
“Nothing is pretty right now,” Hendrix said. “It’s early and we are not peaking early. We have a lot to work on. We still aren’t playing a complete 40 minutes. We have lulls on offense. But, it’s early.”
Hendrix also called a timeout just over a minute into the game when she was not satisfied with the effort the Panthers were putting forth.
“I didn’t like their intensity,” Hendrix said. “We talked about being the aggressors and I didn’t feel what we were doing was good enough so I wanted to set the tone early before it got out hand.”
Hendrix said a determination will be made today about Robertson and Reynolds seeing action when the Panthers entertain Alabama-Birmingham on Tuesday night.