HIGH POINT, N.C. - Erin Reynolds and Cheyenne Parker combined for 42 points and the No. 2-seeded High Point Panthers defeated No. 6 seed Radford, 85-70 in the semifinals of the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Women's Basketball Championship Saturday, March 10 at Millis Center on the campus of High Point University. High Point advances to the Big South Championship Game for the first time since 2006 and will play No. 1 seed Liberty Sunday at 4:00pm on ESPN3 and SportSouth.
Reynolds just missed a triple-double with 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while Parker contributed 20 points, 17 rebounds and a Semifinal-game record six blocked shots. Radford was led by Ayana Avery's 19 points, while Ashley Buckhannon had 16 and Da'Naria Erwin Spencer scored 15.
High Point pulled away in the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 16-point lead at 47-31 at the 15:47 mark. Taylor Tremblay scored six of the Panthers' points during the span. The Panthers continued to limit Radford and took their largest lead of 25 points with 5:02 remaining. HPU also shot 56.0 percent from the floor in the second half to keep Radford at bay. The Highlanders battled back but could not get within single digits the rest of the game.
High Point scored first on Parker's layup at the 19:38, but Buckhannon put Radford ahead 5-2 with a three-pointer and driving layup in the middle. It was 7-4 Radford until High Point countered with two straight field goals to go ahead 10-7 at the 14:57 mark. The Highlanders re-took the lead at 11-10, followed by High Point re-claiming the advantage at 13-11 before RU scored twice to move ahead 15-13 with 12 minutes remaining. The Panthers struggled from the field in the early going, hitting 30.0 percent (6-of-20) during the first 10 minutes.
But High Point came out of the under-12 media timeout with seven-straight points to jump ahead 20-15, with Reynolds keying the run with a three-pointer and breakaway layup to force Radford to call timeout. Erwin Spencer hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two, but Parker scored four-straight points to push the Panther lead to 24-18.
The teams would exchange baskets and it would remain a five-point game for the next three minutes with HPU ahead, 30-25 with 3:10 remaining in the opening half. Parker would cap the first half scoring with four points to give the Panthers a 37-29 lead at intermission.
Parker posted a double-double in the first 20 minutes with 14 points and 12 rebounds for HPU. She also had two blocks and two steals. Radford was led by Buckhannon and Erwin Spencer's seven points each. High Point also scored 10 points off of nine Highlander turnovers in the first period.
High Point will make its third overall Championship game appearance Sunday, and will meet Liberty for the third time in the title contest. The squads met in 2003 and 2006 with the Lady Flames claiming victory both times. It is High Point's first Championship game appearance as the Tournament host.
High Point Head Coach Jennifer Hoover
"I'm proud of our team. Overall it was a great team effort. It was all about team and we would have to do this together. It was going to take the collective effort of everybody. From top to bottom it was our bench screaming out shooters, a player that might need to help out on box outs, whatever it may have been. Our players just did what they needed to do."
Radford Head Coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba
"Our team battled, played hard. Obviously we're very disappointed with the outcome of the game today, but I thought we played through the people fighting through injuries and coming out on the floor and giving us all they had. I thought down the stretch and some key plays we ran out of gas and made some mental mistakes that hurt us in the end. The effort was there though. For my team, I'm proud of that. "