It had been 618 days since he played in his last college basketball game. Nearly 20 months, 88 weeks or 15,000 hours playing inside a closed gym with only his teammates and coaches present to witness what he could do with a basketball in his hands.
After more than a year of being sidelined due to NCAA transfer rules, Longwood point guard Quincy Taylor grabbed hold of the spotlight and poured in with 22 points in his first game as a Lancer to lead Longwood past Hampden-Sydney 95-60 in a preseason exhibition matchup Saturday afternoon at Willett Hall.
The former UAB transfer and Fishburne Military School postgraduate alum hit 9-of-11 shots from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range to key an offensive firestorm that saw Longwood connect on 17-of-26 three-pointers. Taylor dished out six assists that led directly to 16 points as the Taylor-led Lancers embarked on their second season under head coach Jayson Gee.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and it’s finally here,” said a smiling Taylor after the game. “I’m ready for the season to start.”
Taylor committed just two turnovers in 32 minutes of play and showed no signs of rust, exploding for 18 points in the first half as Longwood built a 54-31 lead. His buckets came in transition, off the dribble and from beyond the arc during his team-high 32 minutes of action. The performance may have been a surprise to the near-capacity crowd on hand at Willett Hall, but not to those who watched him do the same thing daily in practice since he joined Longwood prior to the 2013-14 season.
“He’s special,” Gee said. “I told everybody that would listen that he’s a special player and he’s a special young man. He can do so many things on the basketball court – and you saw some tonight, the way he was shooting three-pointers – but where he’s really good is just running our team and being a leader.”
With Taylor handling the point, Longwood shot .647 (33-of-51) from the field for the game and got points from nine different players. Junior Shaquille Johnson broke out for 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting in his first game as a Lancer, and freshman sharpshooter Ryan Badowski stroked six three-pointers – five in the second half – on the way to 18 points. Sophomore Darrion Allen and freshman Kanayo Obi-Rapu also reached double digits with 10 points apiece.
The game took place in front of a near-sellout crowd at Willet Hall as 1,784 fans filled the 1,900-seat arena for the crosstown matchup. Tickets for the general public sold out the day before the game, and Longwood students lined up beginning at 9 a.m. to get their tickets. It was the first matchup between the neighboring schools since 2004 and the first since Longwood joined the Division I ranks in 2007-08.
Hampden-Sydney, which has 13 NCAA Division III Tournament appearances to the their credit, relied on forward Guilherm Guimarães and guard Greg Lewis to provide the bulk of their scoring as the duo combined for 28 points. Those two shot a combined 6-of-7 in the first half and accounted for over half of the Tigers’ first 31 points before Longwood’s defense locked down after halftime.
“It was really great to see so many people in Farmville come out to show their support for both teams,” Gee said. “My goal and vision was to gain credibility in our own community, and I felt like we did that tonight.”
Longwood officially begins the 2014-15 season next Friday, Nov. 14, in the home opener against Averett at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at www.longwoodlancers.com/tickets or by calling (434) 395-2378. The Averett contest will be the Lancers’ final home game until December as Longwood follows with a six-game road trip that includes the EMU Showcase Tournament at Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Photo by Mike Kropf/Longwood University