Longwood notches ninth Big South win, 70-62, at Charleston Southern
Less than 24 hours after completing a 400-mile road trip that is among the longest in the Big South, the Lancers (9-14, 9-9 Big South) put on a first-half shooting clinic in on Charleston Southern’s home court and rode an 11-point halftime lead to their third straight win over the Buccaneers (2-17, 1-14 Big South).
The Lancers, whose 7-1 surge since Jan. 19 has lifted them into a tie for fifth place in the Big South, are now just one win away from breaking the program record for Big South wins they set during their fourth-place run in 2019-2020.
Keying the latest victory in Longwood’s late-season run were redshirt junior Juan Munoz and redshirt freshman Nate Lliteras, who combined for 29 points and six of the Lancers’ seven three-pointers in the first half. Lliteras also put together a game-changing effort on the defensive end with a career-high three steals and his first career block, while Munoz opened the game by hitting his first three three-point attempts – extending his streak to seven consecutive made treys in the process – and finished with a team-high 17 points.
Longwood’s bench also came through in a big way once again, combining for half of the Lancers’ 70 points. Lliteras led the way with 12, while sophomore Leslie Nkereuwem and freshman Justin Hill contributed eight apiece, and Heru Bligen added seven.
Longwood’s early onslaught in the first half provided a big-enough cushion to withstand a late run from Charleston Southern, which whittled a 14-point deficit to four with 1:34 to play. However, the Lancers shook off some late free-throw shooting woes to knock down their last four from the stripe and put away the struggling Bucs.
“We were able to build a nice cushion going into halftime, but we knew they weren’t going away,” said junior forward Christian Wilson, who contributed six rebounds and a steal in his 23rd consecutive start. “They’re a good team despite their record, and they started to make some tough shots. It was our defense down the stretch that got us the win tonight.”
Charleston Southern entered the game with the Big South’s No. 3 scorer in senior Phlandrous Fleming Jr. but managed to shoot just .375 (21-of-56) against Longwood’s conference-leading defense. Fleming recorded his Big South-best fifth double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds but hit just 3-of-12 field goals and was responsible for six of Charleston Southern’s 18 turnovers.
But despite the giveaways and off-shooting night, Charleston Southern still managed to mount a late run that nearly erased the Lancers’ halftime lead. With Longwood leading 60-48 with 8:08 to play, the Buccaneers matched the Lancers’ defensive intensity for nearly seven minutes and strung together a 12-4 that cut the lead to 64-60. Longwood shot just 2-of-9 and turned the ball over twice during that stretch, while Charleston Southern did the bulk of its damage from the free throw line.
Six straight points from Charleston Southern cut the Lancer lead to 64-60 with 1:34 left before Longwood righted the ship and held the Bucs scoreless on four of their last five possessions.
Now down to their final scheduled game of the regular season, the Lancers will return to CSU Field House Friday for a 6 p.m. rematch against the Bucs. That game will air on ESPN+.