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Longwood half-court game-winner sinks Gardner-Webb, 57-54

longwood athleticsIt’s not how Longwood guard DeShaun Wade envisioned hitting a half-court game-winner, but sometimes the basketball gods smile on those that deserve it.

Punctuating a career night that saw him score a career-high 24 points and hit seven three-pointers, Wade nailed a game-winning trey from half court with 4.7 seconds remaining to lift Longwood to a 57-54 comeback win over Gardner-Webb Thursday in Willett Hall.

Rushed into a premature shot when the shot clock did not reset after Gardner-Webb missed a potential go-ahead layup with eight seconds left, Wade corralled a long rebound in the backcourt, mistook the two seconds on the shot clock for the game clock, and uncorked a 50-foot jumper that rang true and broke open a 54-54 deadlock.

The play gave the Lancers (7-14, 6-9 Big South) their largest lead of the half, but with time still left on the clock, they had to put their celebration of Wade’s shot on hold – at least briefly.

“Everybody was looking around like, ‘What do we do next?’” Wade said. “I said we go get another stop and win the game.”

Longwood got that stop in short order, smothering the Runnin’ Bulldogs (8-13, 7-9 Big South) on the ensuing inbounds play and forcing Gardner-Webb’s normally sure-handed All-Big South point guard Jaheam Cornwall to fumble a long pass out of bounds.

Those closing seconds put to rest a wild second half in which Gardner-Webb led by as many as 11 points with 14:07 to play before the Lancers stormed back with a 15-4 run that tied the game with 8:54 to play. Wade stole the spotlight multiple times during the comeback run as well, tying the game at 43-43 with his fifth three-pointer of the night and then putting the Lancers ahead 51-50 with another trey with 2:45 left.

His junior teammate and fellow captain Christian Wilson carried that momentum into the final minute when he hit his own game-tying three-pointer with 36 seconds to play, knotting the score at 54-54 and setting the stage for the game’s climatic final chapter.

“We just weren’t really competing in the first half, and coach let us know,” Wade said. “He left it up to the captains to pick the team up, and that’s what we did in the second half. We picked up energy level and our activity level, and we just went out there and competed. Things just started going our way.”

The victory extended Longwood’s home court winning streak to four straight and continued an end-of-season surge in which the Lancers have won five of their past eight games.

Wade’s game-winner aside, Longwood’s Big South-leading defense once again anchored the win, holding Gardner-Webb to its second-lowest scoring total all season and lowest in Big South play, while allowing only one Bulldogs – reserve guard D’Maurian Williams – to score in double figures. Gardner-Webb shot just .385 (20-of-52) from the floor, while Cornwall hit just 3-of-12 field goals to finish with eight points.

Joining Wade in double figures was guard Justin Hill, who sank a career-high four three-pointers on his way to 15 points and the 12th double-digit scoring game of his freshman season. Redshirt junior point guard Juan Munoz contributed four assists and five rebounds.

Longwood has now won two in a row against Gardner-Webb dating back to last season’s 84-81 overtime win in Boiling Springs, N.C. The series will continue with a game-two rematch Friday at 4 p.m. in Willett Hall.

augusta free press
augusta free press