Women’s basketball mounts comeback to beat High Point

Eagles overcome poor shooting night with strong performance from Jade Edwards

Women’s basketball mounts comeback to beat High Point

Jade Edwards comes up the court during a Nov. 9, 2018 game against Tulsa.

It took three quarters, but the women’s basketball team got out of their rut for a 56-48 comeback win over the High Point Panthers on Nov. 18. It took an electric second-half performance from emerging star Jade Edwards for AU (2-1) to overcome a 6-point, fourth-quarter deficit. 

Edwards, the Eagles’ sophomore guard, spent much of the first half on the bench after picking up two quick fouls, and at the half, she had just 4 points. But she took over in the second half, fading in the post, hitting 3-pointers and taking defenders off the dribble en route to 20 second-half points. Emulating next-level scorers like Kevin Durant and Elena Delle Donne, there didn’t seem to be a spot on the floor she couldn’t get to or a shot she couldn’t hit.

Edwards is becoming the go-to scoreron this team. But she still knows the team has room to improve.

“At halftime, everyone was telling me to keep my head up, make sure to come in and make sure to do what I do best,” said Edwards. “It was pretty ugly, but we ended up winning, which was a good thing. I think that’s the worst I’ve seen our team play in a while, especially in practice. But I mean, a win's a win.”

Neither offense was able to convert early, as the teams combined for just four field goals in the first quarter. The Eagles trailed early and often, and they lacked the energy to run with the Panthers (1-3).

“We got off to a slow start,” said head coach Megan Gebbia. “I think offensively we were completely out of sync for most of the game, so it’s really hard to get back in sync when you’ve been out for three quarters.”

Momentum began to shift at the end of the third, though. As the clock hit double zeros, junior guard Indeya Sanders cashed in a 3-pointer before flexing her biceps in front of the Bender Arena crowd. The Eagles were also able to shift momentum, thanks to transition looks courtesy of blocks from Edwards and Sanders.

Even when their shots were falling flat, AU was able to get to the line. The referees were not afraid to blow their whistles as the Eagles took a season-high 39 shots from the stripe. Despite starting cold, AU knocked down 13 of their 14 fourth-quarter free throws to help seal the game.

High Point pushed the pace for all 60 minutes, running and gunning to keep the Eagles defense off-kilter. The Panthers lightning-fast offense can generate open shots, but can also lead to more turnovers if the team isn’t operating at its sharpest. The Eagles were ultimately able to pick up their energy and overcome the deficit.

“We started slow, so at halftime, we talked about bringing the energy and intensity,” said Sanders. “In the huddle, I kept telling our team we need defensive stops, that’s how we get into it. You have to talk early, communicate with your teammates. You just have to know what’s going on.”

High Point’s offense was carried by sophomore guards Skyler Curran (16 points) and Zaria Wright (13 points). The Panthers are second in the country in 3-point attempts, and they ran their offense through outside scoring again Monday night, going 12-36 from deep. AU shot just 2-17.

“We talked a lot in timeouts how most of the shots they were making were 3s, so we were trying to close out hard on the 3-point shots,” said Gebbia. “We just told them to sell out because that’s what those kids want to do, and that sparked a little bit of a run.”

The entire team was happy to get this one out of their system, and hope Monday’s game was just an abnormality.

“I think we have a lot to work on offensively after this,” said Gebbia. “The next couple of opponents are really good teams, so we’re going to have to find ways to get easier baskets. I think we need to see ourselves get better, and I don’t know how much better we got tonight. I just think we found a way to win.”

The Eagles will hit the road to face Towson on Sunday. This game will be the second of a four-game road trip.

snusbaum@theeagleonline.com

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