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Longwood opens Big South play with 87-73 win over High Point on Thursday

Chris Graham
longwood basketball
Logo: Longwood Athletics

Longwood took care of business in crunch time on Thursday afternoon, earning an 87-73 win over High Point in Willett Hall.

It took a little grit, as shots weren’t going in for the Lancers (9-5, 1-0 Big South, KenPom: 143) in their first game back from the holiday break. The team shot only 40.3 percent (27-of-67) from the floor, but Longwood found a way to win its fourth straight game.

Isaiah Wilkins tied a career best with 25 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor. He also tied a career high with five threes and was a perfect 5-5 from downtown.

“We had some really good stretches of basketball where the guys did an incredible job creating some separation and went up 12,” said Longwood head coach Griff Aldrich. “We ended the half very well in the first. That was terrific. And then when it was a two-point game, and they extended [the lead] and responded positively again. That was a great response. I was really proud of the guys for that. That shows a lot of resilience and toughness to weather a storm and come back and get the win.”

Nate Lliteras had a monster game with 14 rebounds, and four came on the offensive end. The junior added 14 points for his first collegiate double-double, and he also blocked a pair of shots after halftime. His offensive rebound and lay-in was the dagger that put the game out of reach for Longwood.

“The incredible thing about it is that I think Nate has played his two best games in a Longwood uniform in his last two games,” Aldrich said. “He went home for Christmas, and I texted him and said, ‘I thought you played your best game ever for us against South Carolina State. I noticed you out there, you were active.’

“One of the things we have been on Nate about was being a good defender, and he was. That’s a very good offensive team [in High Point], and he sat down and defended. Nate is a shooter! And he shot 1-7 against South Carolina State and 3-9 tonight, so I wouldn’t even say he had a great shooting night, but he really impacted the game in other ways. It is a credit to him that he’s really developing into a terrific all-around basketball player.”

Zac Watson chipped in with 14 points, and Jesper Granlund and Walyn Napper each added 10 points. It marked the sixth time the team has had at least four players score at least 10 points, and they needed all of them.

Zach Austin led High Point (8-5, 0-1 Big South, KenPom: 205) with 18 points.

The Lancers head out on the road to Campbell for a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. against the Fighting Camels. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.

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].