HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The High Point University men's basketball team cut a 25-point deficit to four but Western Michigan made 9-of-10 free throws in the last minute to claim a 70-64 win on Sunday afternoon at the Millis Center. Redshirt-freshman John Brown and graduate student Allan Chaney each scored 20 points for the Panthers.
"I'm proud of the way my guys responded to come back like that, but you just can't get in those kinds of huge holes," said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. "Our post defense wasn't good and we were missing shots in the first half. Even in the second half when we scored 48 points I thought we could have scored 60. We've just got to get back in the gym and keep getting shots up, keep working. For the rest of the season, every game we play will be against a good team."
Chaney also had nine rebounds while Brown posted seven boards and four steals. Chaney scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. Freshman Lorenzo Cugini scored eight points (all in the second half), hit two three-pointers and had four rebounds.
Senior Nate Hutcheson had 19 points and four rebounds to lead Western Michigan. Redshirt-junior Shayne Whittington scored 15 points with nine rebounds and freshman Darius Paul had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
High Point fell to 4-5 while Western Michigan improved to 7-3 with the result.
Down 55-30 with 11:06 to go, High Point went on a 13-3 run and outscored Western Michigan 34-15 the rest of the way. The Broncos were still leading by 17 (60-43) on an Austin Richie free throw with 4:10 remaining before a three-point play by Chaney sparked the Panthers to get it into single digits.
Consecutive baskets by Cugini and Chaney cut Western Michigan's lead to 61-52 with just over a minute to go. High Point caused a shot clock violation on the next possession and started fouling after that. In the next 35 seconds, Western Michigan hit six-straight free throws (four by Hutcheston) and opened its lead back up to 10 points with just 30 seconds remaining.
After two Chaney free throws, an Adam Weary steal led to a three-point play by Dejuan McGaughy that made it 67-62 with 16.9 seconds on the clock. McGaughy fouled Hutcheson on the ensuing possession (he made 1-of-2). The Panthers got the ball back and Brown flushed the rebound of a Justin Cheek layup to make it 68-64 with 5.5 seconds on the clock, but Hutcheson responded with two free throws to ice it for the Broncos.
Western Michigan went 10-for-22 from the free throw line in the first 39 minutes of the game before going 9-for-10 in the last minute. Hutcheson went 5-for-6 in the last minute.
High Point trailed 37-16 after shooting 25.0 percent (7-for-28) and getting outrebounded 24-10 in the first half. The Broncos shot 53.3 percent (16-for-30) with Paul and Whittington each scoring 10 points by the break.
High Point came out with renewed energy to start the second half. Chaney scored eight points in a span of 3:13 to cut Western Michigan's lead to 15 (42-27) with 16:31 remaining. However the Broncos responded with consecutive three-pointers by Hutcheson and Brandon Pokley to push it back to 21. Western Michigan grabbed 13 of the first 14 rebounds in the second half to hold the Panthers at bay and built leads of 53-28 and 55-30 before High Point cut into it late in the game.
Western Michigan outrebounded High Point 53-26 in the game and shot 46.0 percent (23-for-50) from the field. High Point forced 26 turnovers and scored 35 points off turnovers.
High Point is back in action on Friday when it hosts Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. at the Millis Center. The teams last played in December of 2001, a 70-60 High Point win.
HPU/ WFMY News 2 Sports