Radford drops HPU, 63-58
With just over five minutes remaining, the High Point University men’s basketball team stood in position to survive its biggest blow of the season Wednesday.
Instead, Radford landed the final punch.
The blow that the Panthers worked to overcome was losing leading scorer and second-leading rebounder John Brown in the first 90 seconds to a foot injury.
Down nine early in the second half, the Panthers used some scrappy defense to go on a 21-5 run to lead 56-49 with 5:07. But, HPU didn’t score in its next six possessions and managed just 2 points the rest of the way in falling 63-58 at the Millis Center.
HPU coach Scott Cherry called Brown’s status “day-to-day.” The Panthers, who fell to 16-12 and 11-4 in the Big South, close the regular season on Saturday when they host Campbell and then are idle until the second round of the conference tournament next week. Radford, which swept High Point, improved to 13-17, 7-8.
“When you lose 17 points per game, it’s hard to overcome that no matter who you are playing and what their record is,” Cherry said.
The loss of Brown forced Cherry to put Corey Law in the paint with Allan Chaney.
“It’s tough when you’re leading scorer doesn’t play but a minute and a half,” Cherry said. “We hope it’s nothing serious but we’ll see what the doctors say. The guy gave a good effort and gave everything they could give.
“There are guys really upset because they played as hard as they could, thinking they could help us overcome the loss of John. Now, we’ll hope that it is nothing too serious and he can play. If he can’t we’ve got to figure out how we can get the ball into position for the right guys to score.”
Brown went to the locker room soon after his injury and didn’t return to the bench until about midway of the second half as he maneuvered with the aid of crutches, his ankle and foot tightly wrapped.
The Panthers struggled offensively for much of the remainder of the first half then found a way to generate offense in the second half.
“I think the guys were expecting him to come back,” Cherry said. “He’s gotten hurt before and come back. So, I had to tell them at the half that he wasn’t coming back and that they needed to pick it up.”
Chaney led the Panthers with 15 points. Adam Weary added 13, including clutch buckets in the second half rally. The Panthers mounted the comeback in part by holding Radford to just 26 per cent shooting from the field in the second half. They also largely kept the Highlanders’ leading scorer, Javonte Green, held in check as he need three free throws late to finish with 10 points.
But, the Panthers shot just 11 of 32 from the field and were just 7 of 14 from the free throw line in the second half. Some of the biggest misses were by Chaney when he made just 2 of 6 near the end of the big run. Less than an hour after the game was over, Chaney returned to the court to practice free throws.
“The free throw shooting really hurt us especially when we had a chance to push the lead to eight or nine or 10,” Cherry said. “We missed a bunch and put pressure on our defense. For the most part, we did a good job, held them to 36 percent and 27 per cent from 3. We did good enough defensively.
We didn’t make plays when we needed.”
Radford, though, was good enough to his four of six free throws over three trips to pull within 56-55 then went ahead for good with a minute left on a 3 by Rashun Davis, who led the Highlanders with 17 points.
After the Panthers came up empty as Chaney had a shot blocked, Davis hit two free throws form a 60-56 lead. Chaney came up with a dunk with 22 second to go but the Panthers couldn’t score again as Radford added three more free throws, the last two by Davis.