ROCK HILL, S.C. – High Point coach Scott Cherry has never been one to mince words.  Thursday night was no exception.

“We weren’t very good.  We got beat by a team that was well-prepared, and they shot the lights out and played really well.  We just weren’t very good.  (There’s) not a lot to say about it,” said Cherry.  “We got the result we probably deserved.”


That result was a 91-55 victory by fourth-seeded Gardner-Webb over the fifth-seeded Panthers, a somewhat shocking result after the teams played to an 88-86, overtime victory for Gardner-Webb just five days prior.

“I just thought it was a game, offensively, where we were really, really good, probably as good as we’ve been all year,” said Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft.  “That, I think, fueled our defense.  We really had a great night, and it was just one of those nights for them where it wasn’t going in the basket.  (I’m) proud of our guys for advancing.”

(POSTGAME AUDIO:  Gardner-Webb)

That offensive precision began off the jump, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs lived up to their nickname early.  Gardner-Webb (19-13) got a three-pointer from David Efianayi 44 seconds into the game to open the scoring, and found themselves ahead by double digits just over eight minutes into the game.  High Point (15-16) briefly cut the lead to seven, before Gardner-Webb again pushed it to double digits.  That advantage held until a Miles Bowman, Jr. jumper cut the Gardner-Webb lead to 39-30 at the half.

“(We were) still down nine with a chance to come out, and they came out in the second half and that thing ballooned to twenty quick,” said Cherry.  “We just couldn’t string together any stops and couldn’t put the ball in the basket.  You can’t play like that to win, especially in the conference tournament.”

The 20-point lead came for Gardner-Webb just over three minutes into the second half, as a Jamaal Robateau triple was part of a 19-2 run that staggered the Panthers.  High Point found itself in the crosshairs of a Gardner-Webb onslaught that saw the Runnin’ Bulldogs hit six of their first seven three-pointers in the half.  Craft’s club only expanded its advantage from there, achieving a 31-point margin nearing the five-minute mark and essentially finishing off Cherry’s side.

“We just tried to focus in on not letting them get easy baskets and making them work for everything they (got),” said Gardner-Webb forward Tyrell Nelson.  Nelson paced his club with 16 points and 12 boards, helping to neutralize much of the High Point interior game.

Bowman, Jr. tallied a double-double of his own for High Point, scoring 21 points and hauling in 14 boards.  Guard Anthony Lindauer scored 11 in 21 minutes off the bench for the Panthers.

Gardner-Webb placed five players in double figures.  Jamaal Robateau joined Nelson’s 16 by pouring in 15 points, while reserves D.J. Laster and Liam O’Reilly contributed 12 and 11, respectively.  Efianayi added 10.  The Runnin’ Bulldogs shot 49.2 percent (30-for-61) from the floor, knocking down 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) of their three-point tries.  The Gardner-Webb defense clamped down on High Point, holding the Panthers to just 17-of-62 (27.4 percent) from the field and 1-for-17 (5.9 percent) from distance.

Gardner-Webb advances to face top-seeded Winthrop in tomorrow night’s second semifinal contest.  The Eagles won both matchups against the Runnin’ Bulldogs during the regular season, taking a 72-70 decision in Boiling Springs on January 26th, and a 77-71 win in Rock Hill on February 11th.  The winner of Friday night’s contest will host Sunday’s championship game.  Friday’s semifinal is slated to tip at 8:00 p.m., and will be broadcast on ESPN3.


HIGH POINT (15-16): White 1-6 1-2 3, Wright 1-8 0-0 2, Fox 2-10 0-1 5, Madison 1-3 0-0 2, Bowman Jr. 5-11 11-12 21, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Thompson 4-10 1-3 9, Vargo 0-2 0-0 0, Thomas Jr. 0-0 0-0, Lindauer 3-9 5-6 11, Whitehead 0-1 2-2 2, Gooding 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-62 20-25 55.

GARDNER-WEBB (19-13): Robateau 4-7 4-4 15, Rideau 3-8 1-4 9, Efianayi 2-6 4-4 10, Nelson 6-14 4-4 16, Niangane 0-1 0-0 0, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, Jamison 2-4 0-0 4, Turner 1-1 2-2 4, O’Reilly 4-7 0-0 11, Miller 3-4 2-6 8, Rodden 1-1 0-0 2, Zeck 0-0 0-0 0, Laster 4-8 2-2 12. Totals 30-61 19-26 91.

Halftime — Gardner-Webb 39-30. 3-Point Goals—High Point 1-17 (White 0-1, Wright 0-4, Fox 1-4, Bowman Jr. 0-2, Williams 0-1, Lindauer 0-3, Whitehead 0-1, Gooding 0-1), Gardner-Webb 12-23 (Robateau 3-4, Rideau 2-3, Efianayi 2-3, Nelson 0-2, Jamison 0-2, O’Reilly 3-6, Laster 2-3). Fouled Out — Fox (HP), Thompson (HP), Robateau (GWU). Rebounds — Gardner-Webb 49 (Nelson 11), High Point 35 (Bowman Jr. 14). Assists —  Gardner-Webb 18 (Robateau/Rideau 4), High Point 6 (Lindauer 4). Total Fouls — High Point 24, Gardner-Webb 23. Technical — Rideau (GWU). A — 2556.

Points in the Paint —Gardner-Webb 30, High Point 26. Points off Turnovers —Gardner-Webb 12, High Point 4. Second-Chance Points — Gardner-Webb 10, High Point 6. Fast Break Points — High Point 2, Gardner-Webb 0. Bench Points — Gardner-Webb 41, High Point 22.