“I just told the guys, I’m extremely proud of the last 30 minutes of the game,” Longwood coach Griff Aldrich said. “At the under-eight timeout, they had 31 points. If my math’s right, 23 points in the last 30 minutes of the game. I think that really was the story of the game. I thought we elevated our focus, our energy on the defensive end, and that changed everything.”
Elijah Tucker had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lancers (8-1). Walyn Napper had 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals.
“Walyn led us,” Aldrich said. “We always talk about wanting the team to be player led. Walyn was the one in the timeouts telling everyone to wake up in the first half. Griff snaps and barks, but when Walyn does it, it has a different impact. When the players do it, it has a different impact. I thought they responded to him, and I thought he really led us throughout the game. Yeah, 13 points, but seven assists. I thought in the second half, we really started to share the ball better, and that made the offense work more efficiently.”
A 9-0 run after the under-eight timeout got Longwood back into the game, and the Lancers would go into the break down one, 38-37.
Down 31-17 with eight minutes to play in the first half, Tucker jumpstarted a 9-0 run that put Longwood back in the game. He scored five of the team’s nine points, and he started it with an offensive rebound and stick back through contact. The redshirt-sophomore finished the and-one opportunity, and the Lancers were in business.
From that point on, the Lancer defense held a Morgan State side that started 13-17 from the floor to 3-11 shooting over the final eight minutes of the half. Tucker had seven points during those eight minutes as Longwood cut the Morgan State lead to 38-37 at the break.
Jesper Granlund, who had 12 points on the day, drained a three with 15:39 to go to give Longwood the lead for good, at 45-43.
The defense didn’t surrender a point for the next six minutes during a 22-0 Longwood run that saw the lead balloon to 64-43 with 9:07 to play. Longwood never let up and extended the lead to 34 before the final horn.
Wynston Tabbs had 12 points for Morgan State (2-8), and Kamron Hobbs and Will Thomas added 11.
The Lancers will stay on the road with a trip to Delaware State on Saturday following finals week at Longwood.
Tip is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday. The game will air on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.
“To be 8-1 right now is exciting,” Aldrich said. “I told the team, I’m very excited about this group because they want to be good. They’re trying. I didn’t think we played super clean defensively, but I thought the last 30 minutes, we played hard. We tried to rebound. This is a group, that if they maintain this mindset and this attitude, we’ll be able to clean up more and more of the mistakes and be able to progress to become a better team. I think this team has a much higher ceiling than where we are today, and if we stay on that trajectory, I’m excited to see where we’ll go.”