Longwood won its first ever Big South Conference men's basketball game Saturday, surprising Winthrop 62-56 at the Coliseum. The Lancers (4-21, 1-10), first-year members of the league, led the entire second half against the Eagles to pick up only their second win over a Division I opponent this season.
After you have a loss like that, I think the easy thing to do is say, we weren't ready to play, Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey said afterward. Our guys were ready to play, and I think for the most part, played pretty hard. They beat us today.
Winthrop (10-13, 4-7) struggled offensively against a team mired in a 14-game losing streak. The Lancers' lone previous win over a Division I opponent this year came against Florida A&M in late November. They picked up a second Saturday, crucially holding the Eagles without a field goal in the last 3 minutes of a tight contest, snapping the hosts' 4-game home win streak in the process.
We've been in this situation numerous times, said Longwood coach Mike Gillian. I know that it's been coming for this group. It feels to me like we've been there before, even though we've not come out on the winning side. There's obvious adversity when you don't win, and they've kept a positive attitude, kept working.
Longwood had been outscored in the second half of its last four road losses by an average of 13.5 points. But Gillian's team didn't get the memo about rolling over in the second half, quickly grabbing the lead in a game that was tied at the half. A 9-3 run put the Lancers up 51-44 with 7 minutes, 38 seconds left, though Winthrop labored its way back into the ballgame, eventually pulling to within one at 56-55 with 2 minutes, 37 seconds left. James Bourne and Joab Jerome scored inside as part of an 8-2 Eagle run.
Then the home team went blank. Winthrop missed four 3-pointers in the last 2 minutes and turned the ball over on two other occasions. Longwood was surprisingly clinical, Lucas Woodhouse coolly splitting the Winthrop defense for a layup before T. T. Carey hit a pair of crucial free throws with 6.4 seconds left to put the game on ice.
I told my staff after watching tape of them, that team scared me, said Kelsey. I knew they were going to beat somebody soon; I was hoping it wasn't going to be us.
Gideon Gamble paced Winthrop with 18 points and Jerome added 14. 6-foot-10 freshman Michael Kessens led Longwood with 15 points, while Jeylani Dublin and David Robinson contributed 13 each and Carey pitched in 12. Woodhouse had 7 points and as many assists for the Lancers.
A halfcourt grinder with only two fastbreak points should have favored Winthrop. But Longwood hit 58 percent of its second half shots, while the Eagles only made 6 of 24 3-pointers and never found an offensive rhythm against the worst statistical defense in the Big South, and in some respects, the NCAA.
Kelsey bemoaned a lack of easy buckets, a dearth exacerbated by Longwood's second half shooting accuracy.
24 3's are way too many for us, he said. A couple of times we got the ball close to the basket and we weren't all that productive. We sort of lived and died by the three today, and we ended up dying today.
The Lancers hung tough in the first half, belying their grim-looking win-loss ledger. Robinson had a big hand in that, making 4 of his 5 first half field goals, including all three tries from behind the arc. Longwood actually got out to a 7-2 advantage against the sluggish Eagles, a three by Woodhouse and a bucket in the paint from Dublin getting the visitors off to an ideal start in the first 3 minutes.
Winthrop put together a 15-2 run over the next 8 minutes to claim a 17-9 lead. Reggie King drew a 5-second call on the Lancers, Bourne scored inside and Christian Farmer rained in a triple off a screen to give the Eagles their first lead at 9-7. Later, Derrick Henry hopped into the lane and his off-balance shot caromed off the glass to put the hosts up eight and force a timeout from Gillian.
Robinson then warmed up, shooting in consecutive 3's to end a lengthy scoring drought for the Lancers and pull the visitors within two. A pair of buckets from Gamble, including a smooth pull-up jumper with 34 seconds left, ensured the two sides were tied at 27 heading into the changing rooms, setting up a second half unlike any other this season for Longwood.
|LONGWOOD 62, WINTHROP 56|
Percentages: FG .490, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 6-15, .400 (Robinson 3-3, Carey 2-6, Woodhouse 1-4, Kessens 0-1, Taylor 0-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 1 (Carey). Turnovers: 13 (Robinson 4, Woodhouse 4, Carey 2, Ziegler 2, Dublin). Steals: 5 (Carey 2, Woodhouse 2, Kessens). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .426, FT .714. 3-Point Goals: 6-24, .250 (Gamble 3-7, Smith 2-7, Farmer 1-5, Jerome 0-1, Johnson 0-1, Henry 0-3). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 15 (Jerome 5, Gamble 3, Diop 2, Bourne 2, Farmer, King, Henry). Steals: 7 (King 3, Johnson, Smith, Gamble, Henry). Technical Fouls: None.
Att.1,830. OfficialsJustin Porterfield, Lee Kluttz, Scott Smith.