HPU women's rally falls just short, 67-62
It was an impressive comeback by the High Point University women, but in the end it came up just a little bit short.
After trailing by 17 early in the second half, the Panthers rallied within one twice in the final three minutes and, down three, had a shot to tie in the final seconds but couldn’t quite catch Winthrop in falling 67-62 on Saturday in the Millis Center.
“At the beginning of the season, I don’t know if we would’ve battled back, so we’re maturing as far as that goes,” High Point coach DeUnna Hendrix said. “But we talk about being more proactive than reactive, and I felt like a large part of the second half we were just trying to dig ourselves back out.”
Leading 28-23 at halftime, the Eagles outscored the Panthers 18-6 over the first six minutes of the second half to lead 46-29 with 14:04 to play. Winthrop scored on nine of 10 possessions during the run while High Point scored just three times.
“Coach always stresses to us that the first four minutes of the second half are the most important,” said Lindsay Puckett, a redshirt-sophomore guard. “We let them get out of their own, and we just couldn’t answer back.”
The Panthers answered with an 18-4 run to pull within 53-50 with 7:36 left and trimmed it to 61-60 with 2:38 left on Puckett’s 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. They again got it to one with 32 seconds left but couldn’t quite overtake the Eagles.
Winthrop (16-10, 10-4 Big South), which hit 17 of 20 free throws in the second half and their final 12, hit free throws to maintain a three-point lead. High Point had a shot to tie with under 10 seconds left but missed off the side of the rim.
“I think we were just feeding off each other’s energy and trusted each other,” Puckett said of the comeback. “We didn’t want to get embarrassed on our home court, and we’re not the type of team to just fold and give up. … We just couldn’t get some stops and knock down some key shots.”
Cheyenne Parker tallied her 21st double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, despite early foul trouble, and had eight blocks to pass Mackenzie Maier for both the High Point and Big South records for career blocks.
Tayler Tremblay scored 16 points to lead the Panthers (15-10, 9-5 Big South) while Puckett had 14 points — all in the second half, hitting 4 of 8 from 3 — while Lexi Patterson had 11 points for her fourth straight double-figure game.
Aliyah Kilpatrick had 20 points while Dequesha McClanahan followed with 19 to lead four scorers in double-figures for the Eagles, who remained tied with Presbyterian in second place a full game ahead of High Point.
The Panthers, who dropped behind the tie for second as well Campbell, now face a crucial stretch with just four regular-season games left. They play their next two games on the road, starting Thursday at Gardner-Webb.
“We’ve just got to prepare one game at a time,” Hendrix said of the upcoming games. “Each team is really different from each other. So, it’s just taking away their strengths and really utilizing ours.”