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Panthers teams stave off Gardner-Webb

Jan. 8—HIGH POINT — High Point University never could break free, but it played well enough to stay undefeated in conference play.

The Panthers led big midway through the first half, recovered after twice falling behind and made plays down the stretch to beat Gardner-Webb 85-76 in Big South Conference men's basketball Saturday in the Qubein Center.

Kezza Giffa scored a career-high 30 points to lead High Point (13-4 overall, 2-0 conference), which remained tied with Winthrop and UNC Asheville atop the early conference standings. Duke Miles added 26 points while Kimani Hamilton contributed 11 points and nine rebounds. Abdoulaye Thiam chipped in 10 points.

The Panthers led by 11 midway through the first half but trailed by a point before taking a 39-37 lead into halftime. High Point got its lead to eight in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Runnin' Bulldogs (5-11, 0-1) rallied to lead by a point with 11:13 left in the game.

The Panthers stayed just ahead of the pace in the closing minutes — pulling ahead by seven with 4 1/2 minutes left in the game. Gardner-Webb, led by Ademide Badmus with 20 points, got within three twice in the final three minutes, but High Point got its lead back to nine inside the final minute.

The Panthers, who shot 50% from the field for the game while limiting the Runnin' Bulldogs to 48%, will play again Wednesday at home against UNC Asheville.

BOILING SPRINGS — High Point University surged in the second half to beat Gardner-Webb 74-64 in Big South Conference women's basketball Saturday at Gardner-Webb.

Lauren Bevis — who previously starred at Gardner-Webb — scored 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting to lead the Panthers (6-9 overall, 1-1 conference). Shakira Baskerville added nine points, followed by Claire Wyatt with eight points as High Point shot 45% for the game from the field — including 53% in the second half.

The Panthers, who trailed 33-31 at halftime, went on a 12-4 run late in the third to lead by four and carried a five-point lead to the fourth. They extended their lead to nine three minutes into the final quarter and got their lead to double figures inside the final minute.

Ashley Hawkins scored 20 points to lead the Runnin' Bulldogs (1-13, 0-1), last year's conference regular season and tournament champions.

High Point will play again Wednesday at UNC Asheville.