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High Point guns down Golden Eagles, 80-69

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – ‘Tis the season, but Tennessee Tech is taking the idea of giving a little too far.

For the second consecutive game, the Golden Eagles gave their opponents a big head start with a 12-0 lead to open the game, but this time couldn’t recover. High Point shot a sizzling 58.3 percent in the second half on the way to an 80-69 non-conference victory over Tech in Eblen Center Wednesday night.

Just five nights earlier, Tech trailed Jacksonville State 12-0 but rallied to claim a two-point conference road win.

This time, Tech scrambled back to tie the game once in the second half, but the Panthers drove to the basket for layups and made their free throws for the 11-point victory. High Point was 17-for-23 at the line in the second half.

Tech’s record slipped to 2-4, snapping a brief two-game win streak. High Point, meanwhile, won its third straight to improve to 5-3.

Junior Kevin Murphy was the scoring leader for the Golden Eagles, netting 17 points, while senior Alfred Jones added 11 points and five rebounds. Point guard Zac Swansey had nine points and six assists. Terrell Barnes had a team-high eight rebounds.

High Point got double-digit scoring from four players, topped by Nick Barbour who fouled out with 1:05 to play after delivering 18 points. Corey Law had 15 points and seven rebounds, Shay Shine added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Tehran Cox hit for 13 points.

The Panthers played a physical game and controlled play under the basket, getting eight blocked shots and forcing Tech to shoot 36.4 percent from the field. The visitors had a 46-34 advantage on the boards.

A 12-0 run to open the game put the Panthers in control early, but Tech battled and cut the difference to seven late in the half. High Point took a nine-point lead into halftime, 34-25, after Murphy drained a 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go.

The Golden Eagles opened the second half with a 9-2 run to pull within two points, 36-34, but Barbour’s 3-pointer ended that stretch. Jones and Murpny hit back-to-back jumpers to tie the game at 41-41 with 14:05 remaining

Each team hit two free throws and it was 43-43 with 13:45 to go, when High Point engineering a 12-2 run to regain the advantage. Simms hit six and Law four in that run, leaving the Panthers with a 55-45 lead with 8:58 to play.

Chase Dunn (4) and Jud Dillard (5) did all the scoring in a 9-2 Tech run that trimmed the difference to five points, 59-54, with 6:53 to play. Tech was still within six points with 3:16 remaining, before Law ignited a 7-0 run and turned a close contest into a 13-point game, 76-65, with 1:17 left on the clock.

Tech’s long holiday homestand continues Saturday night when the Golden Eagles host Lipscomb at 7 p.m.