Campbell mounts late comeback to down Longwood, 64-58
Behind a 20-point second half from Jordan Whitfield and a 19-point night from Cedric Henderson, Campbell pulled away in the final minutes and held on for a 64-58 comeback win over Longwood Saturday evening in Willett Hall.
Henderson and Whitfield entered the game both ranked among the Big South’s top 10 scorers and spearheaded Campbell’s high-powered Princeton offense once again, combining for more than 60 percent of the Fighting Camels’ points.
Campbell (6-6, 2-3 Big South) shot nearly 70 percent on two-point field goals, got 38 points in the paint and assisted on more than half of its 27 made field goals to overcome a Longwood team that had four players finish in double figures.
Whitfield almost single-handedly turned the game around late in the second half, scoring eight consecutive points during a 10-2 run that broke open a 44-44 tie and put the Fighting Camels ahead for good. That performance negated matching 11-point games from Longwood (2-11, 1-6 Big South) point guards Justin Hill and Juan Munoz, and 10-point games from forwards Leslie Nkereuwem and Zac Watson.
“Campbell does a really good job of playing through their system,” said Longwood head coach Griff Aldrich. “They have some seasoned guys in Jordan Whitfield and Cedric Henderson, guys who have been around a little bit, know the system and know the league, and really lead them on the offensive and defensive ends.”
Whitfield and Henderson did just that, especially in the second half after Longwood used a 12-0 run in the final 3:24 of the first half to stake a 29-24 lead at halftime. However, the Campbell offense – which entered the night leading the Big South in field goal percentage and ranked second in scoring – did not stay down for long, mounting a 26-11 run during a 13-minute span in the second half.
“One of the big things is [Campbell’s] trying to run you through so many things,” Aldrich said. “Whether that’s a screen off the ball into a quick dribble hand-off into a back-door, so it’s bop-bop-bop – a bunch of different actions you have to deal with quickly. None of those things in themselves are impossible or hard to defend necessarily; it’s the pace and volume of which you have to defend it.”
That gameplan opened up plenty of scoring opportunities for Whitfield, who scored eight straight points during Campbell’s second half run, including his three-pointer with 8:38 that put the Camels ahead for the duration. Henderson was also a beneficiary, scoring 14 points during a marathon second-half effort in which he, Whitfield and guard Messiah Thompson played every second after halftime.
Campbell’s end-game rally was enough to overcome another near-double-double from Hill, who added nine rebounds, three assists and a steal to his final line. Munoz hit three three-pointers for the Lancers, while Watson went 5-for-6 from the floor and Nkereuwem went 5-for-7.
Now the Lancers will have less than 24 hours to prepare for round two against the Fighting Camels as part of a Big South schedule that has pitted all league members in a series of back-to-back conference matchups on consecutive days.
“This is one of the real challenges of these back-to-back schedules where there’s only three days between series,” Aldrich said. “You don’t really have a chance to work on you. We’re constantly talking about us and our principles and what we need to get better at, but you don’t have that day where you can allocate 10 to 15 minutes to work on ball-screen defense.
“But right now at the forefront of our minds is to keep our guys fresh. I’m a big believer that it’s probably more important for them to feel good and feel fresh than it is for them to be really good at ball-screen defense and be too tired to execute. It’s a real challenge, but it’s a challenge everybody’s facing.”
Sunday’s game will tip off at 6 p.m. on ESPN+ and WVHL 92.9 FM.