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Big South-leading D keys Longwood win over Presbyterian

longwood athleticsA suffocating defensive effort by the Big South’s leading defense shut down Presbyterian and led Longwood to a third straight win, 49-45, over the Blue Hose Friday evening at the Templeton Center.

The win was the fourth in the past six games for the red-hot Lancers (6-13, 5-8 Big South), who have ridden the Big South’s top scoring defense to a New Year’s surge. The Lancers forced Presbyterian into more turnovers than they allowed field goals, surrendered the fewest points of any Big South team this season, and lowered their league-leading scoring defense to 63.7 points per game in conference play.

Presbyterian (4-9, 2-7 Big South) got 19 points from Big South freshman scoring leader Rayshon Harrison, but gave the ball away 21 times against an aggressive Lancer defense that recorded double-digit steals for the second time in the past four games.

Longwood junior guard DeShaun Wade had four of those takeaways as part of a gritty 13-point effort that he punctuated by shaking off an inadvertent blow to the face from Presbyterian guard Winston Hill and sinking two free throws with 30 seconds remaining. Those two points halted a comeback run from the Blue Hose, who trimmed a 10-point lead to one with 1:05 to play when J.C. Younger hit a three-pointer that pulled Presbyterian to within 46-45.

However, Wade, who was fouled when Hill delivered a hand to his face while attempting to swat away a loose ball, hit both free throws with 30 seconds left to push Longwood’s lead back to three. Harrison missed a long jumper near the top of the key on the next possession, and his follow-up three-pointer at the buzzer 15 seconds later also came up short.

Wade’s backcourt mate Heru Bligen also contributed nine points, while junior forward Zac Watson turned in a strong defensive effort in the paint with six rebounds and a career-high three steals. Watson and freshman Jesper Granlund both chipped in seven points as well, while freshman guard Justin Hill dished a team-high four assists.

The win gives Longwood a shot at a second straight Big South sweep with a looming rematch against Presbyterian coming up Saturday at 4 p.m.

augusta free press
augusta free press