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HPU men win CBI opener

Mar. 25—DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — High Point University started its postseason tournament on a positive.

The top-seeded Panthers opened up a double-digit lead in the first half, maintained a steady advantage and rolled past ninth-seeded Cleveland State 93-74 in the quarterfinals of the Ro College Basketball Invitational men's basketball tournament Monday at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Abdoulaye Thiam scored 27 points to lead High Point, which will face either fourth-seeded Arkansas State or fifth-seeded Montana State in the semifinals Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Kezza Giffa added 18 points, followed by Kimani Hamilton and Juslin Bodo Bodo, who had nine rebounds, with 14 points each.

The Panthers (26-8), who also got 13 points and six assists from Duke Miles, shot 54% from the field for the game while limiting the Vikings to 43%. They closed the half on a 16-5 run over the final six minutes — including a seven-point spurt to end the half — to lead 46-30 into halftime.

High Point, the regular-season Big South Conference champion, held a double-digit lead throughout the second half — using a 14-4 run early in the second half to lead by 22 with 15:28 left in the game. The Panthers pushed their lead to as large 25 in the second half.

Drew Lowder scored 17 points to lead four double-digit scorers for Cleveland State (21-15).