HPU races past Gardner-Webb
The High Point University women’s basketball team is quite different than it was at the beginning of the season. But, if Saturday is any indication, it is still very good.
The Panthers had four double-figure scorers on offense and clamped down on defense in building a 20-point lead in the first half and cruising to a 64-42 win against Gardner-Webb in Big South Conference play in the Millis Center.
“That was probably the cleanest we’ve played in a while and probably the best all season,” first-year coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “We forced 26 turnovers after forcing 22 last game and we were really efficient on offense. We were finding each other and making things happen.”
Cheyenne Parker had 16 points and 16 rebounds, followed by Lindsay Puckett and Kendra Wallace with 15 points each and Stacia Robertson with 12. Parker also had seven blocks and six steals while Wallace and Robertson each had eight rebounds (a career-high for Wallace).
High Point (9-6 overall, 3-1 Big South), keyed by a 12-1 run, outscored the Bulldogs 30-8 from 16:37 left in the first half to 4:49 left to lead 34-11, which was plenty of cushion. The Panthers forced turnovers and scored in transition, to quickly extend the lead.
“Running on them in transition was the thing,” said Parker, a former Southwest Guilford standout, “and we found the open man and executed our plays. It felt good. It made us smell blood, so to speak. We didn’t want to let up because we want to be a championship team.”
Gardner-Webb (7-7, 0-3) shot 19.4 percent in the first half while the Panthers, who led 39-18 at halftime, shot 41.2 percent. Jasmine Dale (14 points) was the lone double-figure scorer for the Bulldogs, who finished with season-worsts in shooting (22.8 percent) and points scored.
High Point, without key contributors Erin Reynolds and Tori Cook since late November-early December, has handled the mid-season reshuffling well and continued grow into the new roles heading into the heart of Big South play.
“It’s coming together well,” Hendrix said. “We’ve got people in their concrete roles now. There’s no question about roles, and now I think it’s about confidence. They’ve had time to adjust to those roles, and this team has something to prove — they’ve been through a lot.
“It’s having that chip on their shoulder and riding it. When you start putting teams away like that, it always helps the confidence. But I think we’re starting to come along every day and we keep getting better every day.”
The Panthers begin a three-game road trip Thursday at Coastal Carolina before returning home Jan. 24 against Longwood.