Big South favorite Coastal Carolina outlasts Longwood, 76-70
Shivaughn Wiggins hit six straight free throws in the final 1:06 to fight off another late Longwood comeback and lift Big South preseason favorite Coastal Carolina to a 76-70 win over the Lancers Thursday evening at the HTC Center.
Wiggins and fellow Chanticleer guard Warren Gillis scored 15 points apiece and combined for 21 in the second half. With Longwood (5-11, 1-2 Big South) forced to foul late to regain possession, Wiggins earned three trips to the free throw line in the final 1:06 and knocked down all six foul shots to fend off a charge that saw the Lancers cut a 12-point deficit to 72-70 with 13 seconds remaining. Longwood center Lotanna Nwogbo put the Lancers within one bucket with a tip-in at the 13-second mark, but Wiggins’ clutch free throw shooting ensured that the Lancers never had the opportunity to take a game-tying shot.
“I thought we played the game well enough to beat this team, we just didn’t get it done,” said Longwood head coach Jayson Gee. “It was a hard-fought basketball game, but Coastal’s offensive rebounding really hurt us. Their ability to rebound the basketball made it tough on us. They had 14 offensive rebounds, which is their average, and not being able to hold them below that hurt us.”
Center Badou Diagne led the rebounding effort for Coastal Carolina (12-3, 3-0 Big South) with 12 boards and seven on the offensive glass in a clash between two of the Big South’s top centers. The battle of giants under the basket saw Diagne score 13 points opposite Nwogbo, who recorded his third straight double-double with 23 points and 10 boards.
Longwood’s final bucket appropriately belonged to Nwogbo, who muscled his way to the most points by a big man against Coastal Carolina this season. Nwogbo was 10-of-14 from the field, added a block and two steals, and played 33 minutes just four days after logging a career-high 48 minutes in the double-overtime win against Radford.
“Lotanna continues to turn in dominant effort after dominant effort,” Gee said. “With the way he’s getting defended, it’s a credit to him and what he’s about. But I’m proud of all these guys. They ‘ve fought hard on a difficult hand they’ve been dealt, playing three of their first four conference games on the road. I really felt good about coming in here that we could compete. I don’t think we’re as far back as the conference standings said we are.”
The Lancers were picked last in the Big South preseason poll but have opened the first three games of head coach Jayson Gee’s second Big South season by defeating preseason dark horse Radford 90-79 in double overtime, taking perennial championship contender Winthrop to the wire in an 82-72 overtime loss and coming within one basket of upsetting the defending conference champions Thursday in Conway.
Longwood was only the fifth team to score 70 points against Coastal Carolina this season, joining UCLA, Chattanooga, Ole Miss and Charleston Southern. The Chanticleers entered the game holding opponents to a Big South-low 56.2 points per game and a .358 field goal percentage, but Longwood surpassed both those numbers with a .531 (26-of-49) clip from the floor and a .563 (9-of-16) mark from three-point range.
And once again, the Lancers flashed the late-game fight that has pulled them to within one possession of tying the score the final minute of five of their past six games. The Coastal Carolina lead stood at eight points at the one-minute mark, but back-to-back three-pointers from Quincy Taylor and Fisher cut the deficit to four before Nwogbo tapped in the missed layup by Fisher with 13 seconds left to put Longwood within two points.
“We did a better job in the second half with turnovers,” Gee said. “We had nine in the first half and only two in the second. You shoot 53 percent against this basketball team and only have 11 turnovers…we’ve just made so many strides from a turnover standpoint and I’m really proud of how these guys have responded.”