Home Longwood battles back from 22-point hole, but falls in final seconds to Gardner-Webb

Longwood battles back from 22-point hole, but falls in final seconds to Gardner-Webb

Chris Graham
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Gardner-Webb led by 22 at halftime. Longwood fought its way back by holding the Runnin’ Bulldogs without a field goal for the 9:26.

Only to lose, 72-69, when GW’s DQ Nicholas sank three free throws with 1.2 seconds left.

“On the one hand, I couldn’t have been more disgusted in the first half. But then in the second half, you couldn’t be more proud,” Longwood coach Griff Aldrich said. “Honestly, what we saw, this has been our season. A team that struggles to compete, struggles to come out with an execution mindset, relatively sloppy in the first half, and then a team that also has the ability to come out and really impose its will. I’m the head coach. It’s my job to press the right buttons to get them to understand and to do things the right way, and I haven’t been able to do that. That’s on me.”

Longwood (17-13, 5-10 Big South) trailed 50-28 at the half, as Gardner-Webb (15-15, 10-5 Big South) made 12 threes.

In the final 20 minutes, the Lancers locked in defensively, and the Lancers held Gardner-Webb to six made field goals and forced 10 turnovers.

Longwood cut the lead to 10 on a DA Houston three with 7:30 to play, and Gardner-Webb didn’t score a basket over the final 9:26.

Emanuel Richards bulldozed his way to an offensive board and putback to knot the game at 69 all with 1:38 to play.

Both sides came up empty on their next few possessions before Nicholas was fouled shooting a straightaway, stepback three with 1.2 seconds left to break the deadlock from the foul line.

“The biggest thing for Longwood basketball is fighting for our culture, fighting for our team,” Aldrich said. “That second half, that’s who we want to be. The first half is rough to watch, probably for the fans too. The reality is, we’ve been fighting to be that second half team. We’ve got one more game left, and we’ve got the tournament.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].