HPU men target big finish
With a long winning streak snapped, a division title secured and two regular season games to go, the High Point University men’s basketball team looks to finish with the best Big South regular season conference record.
North Division champ HPU is in a race with South Division leader Charleston Southern for the best regular season record. Both are 11-3 and two games ahead of South members UNC Asheville and Gardner-Webb.
Head coach Scott Cherry is hopeful he won’t have to worry about overconfidence when the Panthers face Radford tonight at the Millis Center (WMFR, 7 p.m.), with Campbell on the horizon in the regular-season finale Saturday, after the Panthers blew a double-digit lead and were served a slice of humble pie by Morgan State on Saturday.
“We’re a young team and they got overconfident,” Cherry said. “But, it’s better that it happened now than in the conference tournament next week. It was a wake up call that we have to defend, rebound and attack the paint.”
Up by 14 with nine to go, Cherry says his team let their feet off the gas.
“We hadn’t played particularly even though we were up 14. I think they felt they had it in the bag. We relaxed and you can’t relax. Morgan State hit some 3s, we had some calls go against us that don’t normally go against us and they got back in it real quick. And at the end, we didn’t make plays.”
The thing Cherry wants his team to do is get back to the things they had done well during the winning streak.
“What we don’t want to do is get away from the things that made us successful,” Cherry said. “And we got away from them against Morgan State. We turned the ball over. We came down and took quick shots when Morgan State got close and we let up on defense. We hadn’t been doing that.
“But now that it’s happened, we can focus on trying to finish with the best conference record.”
The Panthers have another reason not to be overconfident against Radford, which is tied for third in the South at 6-8 and is 12-17 overall. They lost 59-54 on the Highlanders’ home court Jan. 9.
Radford is led by guard Jovante Green, who is fourth in the tenth in scoring at 14.8 points per game and fourth in rebounding at 8.4, fourth in field goal percentage (51.7 per cent) and is tied for first in steals (2.1 per game).
“Green can score and rebound and they have a couple more guards who can score,” Cherry said. “But, They are really tough defensively. The first time we played them, we had a hard time getting people open for shots. It going to be a matter of us outworking them in a high intensity environment.”