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Surge continues as Longwood dispatches Hampton 83-73

longwood athleticsLongwood head coach Griff Aldrich has preached all season that good defense carries teams through offensive slumps.

But when the offense is also firing on all cylinders like Longwood’s was Monday night, the results can become quite one-sided.

In one of their most lopsided wins of the season, the Lancers (9-14, 8-9 Big South) rode 21 points from Juan Munoz and dominated both ends of the court to topple Hampton 83-73 and continue their climb up the Big South standings.

In their second-highest scoring game of the season, Longwood led the Pirates (9-11, 8-7 Big South) by as many as 25 points and cruised to a 10-point victory that was their fourth by double digits this season. The Lancers have now won seven of their past nine, five in a row in Willett Hall, and three straight overall to inch closer to securing a top-six seed in the upcoming 2021 Big South Championship.

“Tonight’s a great win,” said Aldrich, who is now just one win shy of matching Longwood’s record for Big South wins, which his 9-9, fourth-place Lancers set last season.

“This is a team that really understands itself pretty well, is really digging in on the defensive end, and I think is really growing offensively. Really a lot of wonderful things here.”

Munoz spearheaded the offense with seven three-pointers, matching a career-high from beyond the arc that is also tied for the second-most treys by a Lancer in a Division I era. He was one of four Lancers to score in double figures, joining freshman Jesper Granlund, who matched a career high with 12 points, and forwards Leslie Nkereuwem and Zac Watson, who contributed 11 apiece.

Led by Munoz’s seven treys, Longwood hit 12 three-pointers, but it was a first-half defensive stand that set the stage for a second straight regular-season win over the Pirates.

Armed with the Big South’s leading scorer in Davion Warren, Hampton managed just 25 first-half points and turned the ball over eight times in the opening frame to allow Longwood to build an 18-point lead by halftime. Longwood scored 12 consecutive points late in the half, ended on a 12-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way.

“I thought we were outstanding in the first 20 minutes,” Aldrich said. “We were absolutely terrific. I thought the guys really shared the ball well on the offensive end, we looked to attack advantages where we got it, and we had a number of really nice plays in transition and really scored the ball well. It helps when you shoot well – we shot 41 percent from three in the first half, but they were all open looks for the most part. That was really encouraging.”

Those scoring contributions came from throughout Longwood’s lineup, with eight different players hitting a field goal in the first half and four – including Nate Lliteras’ 2-for-2 shooting effort – hitting three-pointers. For the game, nine Lancers scored even as guards Justin Hill and DeShaun Wade, who average a combined 23.6 points per game, totaled just nine points.

“The neat thing about tonight is the contributions from so many people,” Aldrich said. “You have guys like Justin and Juan who are just terrific and have been mainstays for us all season, but you also have guys like Jesper. He was huge for us tonight. He played great, Nate played great. He’s had an injury and came back and it was like he hadn’t missed a step. Zac was terrific against their seven-footer, and we had a lot of contributions from different guys.

“That’s exciting to see as you jump into late-season play where different guys are able to step up. Justin didn’t get as many shot opportunities tonight, but we didn’t need him to tonight. It worked well, and it was good to see these other guys really step up and have good nights for us.”

The Pirates leaned on 24 points from Warren, but the senior guard needed 18 field goal attempts to get there. Marquis Goodwin also scored 21 points, making Hampton the first team to post two 20-point scorers against Longwood’s Big South-leading defense this season, but the Lancers held the rest of the Pirates lineup to just nine made field goals.

“We’re playing our best basketball of the season, and that’s what you want to be doing at this point of the year,” Aldrich said. “I’m a broken record in that we’ve got to continue to focus on executing on every single possession and valuing execution for all 40 minutes. I think that’s where our focus has to be.”

Longwood will now turn its sights to a late-addition two-game series at Charleston Southern scheduled for this Thursday and Friday. That series, which was postponed earlier February, will be the Lancers’ regular-season finale and final tune-up before the Big South Championship tournament.

augusta free press
augusta free press