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Longwood’s Big South Tournament run snapped in semifinals by No. 1 seed Winthrop

longwood athleticsIn the end, not even Longwood’s Big South-leading defense could keep No. 1 seed Winthrop from getting back to the Big South Championship game.

Led by what was nearly a second straight triple-double by Big South Player of the Year Chandler Vaudrin, the Big South Regular Season Champion Eagles (22-1) extended one of the strongest runs in college basketball this year by taking down No. 5 seed Longwood 82-61 in the semifinals of the 2021 Big South Championship Thursday night at Winthrop Coliseum.

Vaudrin, whose triple-double Monday led Winthrop to an 83-54 quarterfinal win over No. 8 seed High Point, spearheaded the Eagle attack once again, scoring 16 points with nine assists and eight rebounds to vault Winthrop back to the Big South Championship game for a second straight year.

The win came at the expense of a fifth-seeded Longwood (12-16) team that entered the tournament as one of the hottest in the Big South, winning eight of their final nine games of the regular season and upsetting No. 5 UNC Asheville 77-61 in Monday’s quarterfinals. But even as the Lancers won a program-record 10 Big South games behind the top scoring defense in the conference, Winthrop’s overpowered offense prevailed to remain one of only four teams in the nation with fewer than two losses.

Along with Vaudrin, All-Big South guard Charles Falden scored in double figures with 19 points and a 5-of-7 shooting performance from beyond the arc. Those two sparked a game-changing run in the final five minutes of the first half, combining for six points and two assists during an 11-0 run that turned Winthrop’s 33-30 lead to 44-30 at the break.

Thursday’s loss ends the final Big South postseason run for Longwood redshirt-junior point guard Juan Munoz, who was named to the All-Big South second team for the first time and capped his 2021 tournament with 17 points for his seventh straight double-digit scoring game. He and DeShaun Wade both finishd in double figures, with Wade contributing 12 points, and sophomore Leslie Nkereuwem scoring nine after his 18-point outburst in Monday’s quarterfinal win.

augusta free press
augusta free press