High Point Panthers vs. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs
The High Point Panthers welcome the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs to the Millis Athletic Center to open the Big South playoffs. The Bulldogs come in riding back to back defeats after a 68-62 loss to Presbyterian while the Panthers upended Campbell 98-60. The Bulldogs are -6 point favorites over the Panthers with an over/under point total set at 133.
What do we know about Gardner-Webb? For starters, they began the conference schedule at 4-2 and looked like a competitive Big South club but the wheels fell off with the Bulldogs dropping 10 of 13 to lock up the tenth spot in the conference at 6-12. A dismal finish after a promising start is disappointing enough but a close examination of the final 13 contests tells of a team that certainly lost plenty of games but all but three were decided by six points or less.
The Bulldogs have been outscored 69-66 on the year but have been far more competitive than their record states. What GW does have going for them is a rather deep rotation that goes as many as nine deep but this is the very definition of score by committee with Tashan Newsome as the only double digit scorer at 12 points and seven rebounds with eight others scoring between five and ten points.
High Point is a team that tried to get hot in the last month of the season but didn’t quite get hot enough or the season ran out on them as the Panthers 5-3 down the stretch but all three defeats were by seven points or less. That couldn’t make up for the five consecutive defeats leading up to their mini hot run that insured that HP would finish in the middle of the pack at 8-10 in a four way tie for sixth. High Point is one of several dangerous offensive teams in the conference but they received as much as they gave by barely outscoring the opposition 72-70 on the year. Consistency has been an enemy at both ends of the court but especially on a defense that was competitive one night only to look lost on another. The Panthers success will likely depend if leading scorers Nick Barbour (20.8 ppg) and Shay Shine (15.5 ppg) can keep filling the cylinder.
High Point will try to speed things up and Gardner-Webb might not be able to stop them but on the flip side the Panthers expertise is not defense either. These teams split a pair of four point decisions and the tendency of the Bulldogs to keep things close has me looking at the points.
Gardner-Webb Bulldogs +6 High Point Panthers