By Noah Stern
On Feb. 12, the 8-10 High Point University Men’s basketball team faced off against the 1-16 Charleston Southern Buccaneers. The two teams played a day earlier, with High Point coming out on top. Coming into the game, Charleston Southern had won only one game and was winless within Big South Conference play. They fought hard and came out on top against the heavily favored Panthers.
During their first meeting on Feb. 11, the Panthers beat the Buccaneers after a historic second half in which the Panthers scored 55 points. They came out of the first half only scoring 22 points, while shooting an abysmal 0% from deep, 60% from the charity stripe and only 29% from the field.
The Panthers turned it around drastically in the second half, going 5-9 from the three-point line, improving their field goal percentage from 29% to 57%. This was a huge win for High Point as they looked to get some consistency in their play this year. The Panthers hoped the momentum from their huge second half would continue into their next game, but that ultimately was not the case.
The Panthers came out firing, getting to an early 17-4 lead. But following a timeout, the Buccaneers came out storming, making the Panther lead short lived. They tied it up at 17 and continued to play very well for the remainder of the first half. Going into halftime, the Buccaneers led the Panthers 37-36.
In the first half, the Panthers shot 42% from the field, 33% from three and 80% from the free throw line. The Buccaneers shot 40% from the field, 35% from three and 72% from the free throw line. It was an extremely even first half, with both teams grabbing leads at different times and lots of back and forth throughout.
The second half was very much the same with little discrepancy between the two teams. They traded baskets, with both the Panthers and Buccaneers exchanging leads at various points. With about eight minutes remaining, the game was locked up at 55 a piece. High Point grabbed the lead and didn’t give it away until the very last second of the game.
The Panthers led the game 68-66, with 24 seconds left in the game. While the Buccaneers could have gone for the tie to send it to overtime, senior guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. (29 pts, 12 reb.), pulled up from the three-point line and drilled the shot with three seconds remaining. He gave the Buccaneers their first lead in the game since there were nine minutes left. The Panthers turned the ball over on their final possession, giving Charleston Southern their second overall victory of the season and their first conference win.
It was a late game collapse that the Panthers couldn’t afford. They have been very inconsistent this season, and a heartbreaking loss like this cost them a lot of momentum they had coming into the game.
The big takeaway from this game is foul trouble and lack of secondary scoring. The Panthers’ leading scorer, John-Michael Wright, sat for an extended period of time during the second half because of his three early fouls. His absence allowed Charleston Southern to stick around until the end, which gave them their window to pull out the victory.
Panthers Bryant Randleman, Ahmil Flowers and Lydell Elmore also found themselves in foul trouble in the second half, also allowing the Buccaneers to stay in a game that they were supposed to lose. Wright put up another very solid stat line with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals, but the Panthers have had lots of trouble finding production from other players this season.
The team needs other players to put up consistent numbers to win more games and have a chance at competing for a Big South Championship and, hopefully, the NCAA tournament.