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Longwood dispatches High Point, 67-54, to complete mid-week sweep

longwood athleticsJust 24 hours after dismantling Big South rival High Point 75-54 Tuesday, Longwood clamped down on the defensive end once again and used a runaway second half to deal the Panthers a 67-54 loss and complete a regular-season sweep Wednesday evening in Willett Hall.

On a night in which Longwood’s early shooting woes allowed High Point (3-8, 1-5 Big South) to build a nine-point lead early in the first half, the Lancers’ defense pulled them through once again.

The Panthers managed just 22 points after halftime against the revitalized Lancers (5-13, 4-8 Big South) and hit just 18 field goals for the game as Longwood surrendered a season-low 54 points for the second straight night.

With High Point’s offense slowed by the Big South’s No. 2 scoring defense, Longwood freshman dynamo Justin Hill poured in 13 of his career-high 20 points after halftime to help the Lancers turn a one-point halftime lead into a second straight double-digit win. Hill shot 8-of-11 from the field, sank a career-high three three-pointers and scored seven consecutive points to spark a game-breaking 26-7 second-half run that erased a 38-37 High Point advantage and put Longwood ahead for good.

Wednesday’s victory is the latest in a midseason resurgence for the Lancers, who have now won three of their past five Big South games and three straight at home. Keying that turnaround has been a revitalized defense buoyed by the return of guards Heru Bligen and DeShaun Wade, who were limited in the first six games of the season but have since returned to help Longwood hold Big South foes to just 65.3 points per game, the second-lowest average in the conference.

That defense showed up in a big way in Wednesday’s second half, as the Lancers allowed the Panthers just 11 points on their final 19 possessions. Included in that stretch was a scoreless drought of more than four minutes in which Longwood’s two-point lead ballooned to 16 behind 14 unanswered points – nine of which came on three-pointers from Juan Munoz and Hill.

Munoz joined Hill in carrying Longwood’s offense, contributing 14 points with four three-pointers. He hit two of those treys in each half to continue a hot shooting streak in which he has knocked down 14-of-25 treys in his past three games. Sophomore guard Heru Bligen also chipped in 10 points, while freshman Jesper Granlund scored all nine of his points on three first-half treys, including one in the closing seconds that sent Longwood into the locker room with a 33-32 halftime lead.

Meanwhile, High Point got 21 points from sophomore guard John-Michael Wright, but the Lancer bench more than made up the difference by outscoring their High Point reserve counterparts 34-8.

Now riding the momentum of back-to-back wins, the Lancers will head into a eight-day break between games that is their longest since entering the heart of their Big South schedule. Their next two-game series will take place on Jan. 29-30 at Presbyterian, which remains the lone Big South team to defeat second-place Radford this season.


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