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Longwood continues streak of recent success at home with 75-54 rout of High Point

longwood athleticsSparked by 21 points from redshirt junior Juan Munoz, Longwood cruised past High Point 75-54 Tuesday night in Willett Hall to extend their win streak in the series to six straight dating back to the 2018 Big South Championship tournament.

The Lancers’ most recent win over High Point (3-7, 1-4 Big South) Tuesday was their biggest margin of victory since the series began in 1984 and came on the strength of one of their best shooting nights of the season.

Hot from start to finish, Longwood (4-13, 3-8 Big South) shot .510 (25-of-49) from the field, hit 12 three-pointers and racked up 15 assists for their most in Big South play and second most in 2020-21.

“I thought we played a tremendous first half,” said Longwood head coach Griff Aldrich, who improved to 5-0 in head-to-head matchups against High Point head coach Tubby Smith since the two began their tenures at their respective Big South institutions within a week of each other in March 2018.

“I thought they did a great job executing both on the offensive and defensive ends. The ball was just moving. There was one segment where it got held up a little bit and everybody was putting it on the ground, but for the most part the ball was moving, we were driving for a teammate, and we got into the paint a ton.”

Playing on a home court in which they have now won three of their past five Big South games and two in a row, the Lancers got offensive contributions throughout the lineup with the Lancer bench contributing a season-high 45 points. Keying that effort was Munoz, who began the game out of the starting five for the first time all season and responded by connecting on his first four three-point attempts of the game.

That hot start ended with the sharpshooting Munoz knocking down 6-of-8 shots from long range and assisting on two others en route to his team-leading 14th double-digit scoring game and second 20-point game of the season. He was one of four double-digit scorers for the Lancers, leading a backcourt quartet including Justin Hill (15 points), DeShaun Wade (12) and Heru Bligen (11).

“Justin Hill’s layup at the end of the half, he got to the rim, played off two and pump-faked. He gets fouled, and he scores,” Aldrich said. “That’s something we’ve talked a lot about, making the simple play and not trying to shoot what we call ‘hope layups’ or tough, contested layups. That was a really nice play and exemplified our execution on the offensive end.”

Hill’s end-of-half layup capped an explosive opening half in which the Lancers amassed a 23-point lead heading into the locker room. Both Hill and Munoz scored 12 points in that opening frame, with Munoz finishing a perfect 4-of-4 from the three-point line and Hill going 4-of-6 from the floor in just nine minutes of action.

But as strong a performance the resurgent Lancers turned in on the offensive end, they were even more dominant defensively. Behind a defense that entered the night ranked No. 3 in opponent scoring, the Lancers held the Panthers to just .378 (17-of-45) shooting from the floor, their fewest made field goals and second-lowest scoring total of the season.

“On the defensive end, I don’t think we were perfect but I thought our activity level was really good,” Aldrich said. “Our competitiveness was really good. I just thought it was really hard for them to score on almost every single possession. I’m really proud of that first half.”

The 54-point shutdown also marked the fewest points Longwood has allowed all season. John-Michael Wright carried the Panthers with 27 points, but Longwood held the rest of the High Point lineup to just 27 points.

High Point did find itself midway through the second half when they opened up an 11-6 run to cut Longwood’s lead to 15, but redshirt freshman Nate Lliteras reclaimed the momentum for the Lancers by sinking his 10th three-pointer of the season. Longwood led by at least 16 the rest of the way and outscored High Point 16-10 over the final 6:08, overcoming a pattern of end-game struggles that have led to four one-possession losses this season.

“A sign of a good team, which we really haven’t done well this year, is to fight back and come back and stop the flow,” Aldrich said. “You think back to the Upstate game where we’re up eight and we lose it a little bit and we’re not able to reassert ourselves. Here they got it down to 15, but then we got it right back and closed the game out. We talk so much about process and about growth, and we don’t want that to just be a buzzword or cliché. That’s growth for these guys.”

Now back in the Big South’s top eight, the Lancers will have an opportunity to climb even higher Wednesday night with a 6 p.m. rematch against High Point on ESPN+ and WVHL 92.9 FM.

augusta free press
augusta free press