BOILING SPRINGS – David Efianayi scored a game-high 23 points and Gardner-Webb improved to 6-0 at home this season with a 62-45 win over High Point Tuesday night in Big South Conference men’s basketball action.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs (8-9, 3-1 Big South) got 14 points from Liam O’Reilly, eight points from DJ Laster and six points (eight rebounds) from Patrick Zeck in a physical, defensive-themed battle.
High Point (7-8, 2-2 Big South) actually sprinted to a 9-0 lead, forcing a Gardner-Webb timeout with 17:28 to play in the first half on Brandonn Kamga’s driving layup. The Runnin’ Bulldogs seized control out of that stoppage, going on a 13-0 run over the next five minutes to go up 13-9 on a pair of O’Reilly free throws at the 12:40 mark.
The Panthers trimmed the lead to one point twice over the next several possessions, but Gardner-Webb closed the half on a 15-6 run to lead 31-21 at the break.
Efianayi scored the first five points of the second half – all in the first 60 seconds – to extend Gardner-Webb’s lead to 36-22 quickly. Both teams went cold from there, as those field goals from Efianayi were the only two made for either side until 14:26 remained in the game.
Ricky Madison connected on a layup to trim Gardner-Webb’s lead to 36-26 at that point, but the Panthers would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
High Point was led by Kamga (11 points) and Jahaad Proctor (10 points). Leading scorer Andrew Fox endured a tough shooting game, going 3-for-13 from the floor for nine points. Madison had seven points and seven boards off the bench.
The Panthers were limited to just 30.9 percent shooting for the game (17-of-55), which included a 1-for-15 effort from long distance (6.7 percent). After Proctor made High Point’s first three-pointer at the 18:47 mark in the first half, the Panthers missed 14 in a row to close the game.
Gardner-Webb finished at just 38.8 percent for the game (19-of-49), but made an efficient 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from downtown and connected on 18-of-23 free throws. GWU also shot 45.8 percent in the first half from the floor to built its double figure cushion.
Efianayi slashed into the lane well, finishing around the rim and at the free throw line – but also made his mark from long range. The Orlando, Fla., junior was 7-of-12 overall and finished 3-of-5 from three-point range. He made 6-of-9 at the charity stripe.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs have another very tough test coming up, hosting first-place Radford on Friday night (January 12) at 7:00 pm. The Highlanders (11-6, 4-0 Big South) got past Charleston Southern Tuesday evening on the road, 64-61.
Friday night’s game will stream live on ESPN3 (WatchESPN) and the ESPN App. Legendary play-by-play man Mike Hogewood and Jeff Jackson will call the action from Paul Porter Arena.