UMBC spoils Longwood’s return to Willett Hall

Published 2:01 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rodney Elliott scored 18 points and Cody Joyce added 16 off the bench to lead UMBC to a 70-59 win over Longwood Saturday afternoon in Willett Hall.

Elliott’s 18 points came on 5-of-8 shooting as one of four double-figure scorers for UMBC (2-7), including Joyce, who hit 7-of-12 shots and added six rebounds as part of a UMBC bench that contributed 21 points. Joe Sherburne and Will Darley led UMBC’s performance from beyond the arc, combining to knock down 7-of-14 treys as the Retrievers shot 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from long range.

“We have a lot of holes to fill,” said Longwood head coach Jayson Gee. “I thought our depth played a part. We just couldn’t maintain the level of energy required to get that team stopped, and once the depth element got to us, we couldn’t keep a high standard of play.”

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The Lancers, who returned to their home court for the first time since Nov. 16, opened the game with a 22-7 run that included 11 consecutive points by Kanayo Obi-Rapu but gave up the lead for good when UMBC responded with a 27-6 run of their own. UMBC hit 5-of-6 three-pointers during that game-changing surge and led by at least two possessions for the duration of the game.

“UMBC hit some shots that broke our back,” Gee said. “They made their run, which teams do, and we weren’t able to sustain anything emotionally or mentally, and I thought we caved in a little bit from an adversity standpoint. There were stretches, especially at the start of the game, when we were flying around and making things more difficult. I thought fatigue set in, then UMBC hit some shots and we were never able to respond.”

After taking a 37-30 lead into halftime, the Retrievers cooled down from their 57.7 percent first-half shooting performance but still managed to hit 10 of their 22 attempts from the floor. Elliott and Sherburne stayed hot and combined for 23 of UMBC’s 33 second-half points to grow the lead to double digits by the 13-minute mark.

Obi-Rapu was the highlight of Longwood’s first half, knocking down his first three three-point attempts in successive trips down the court on to spark Longwood’s opening run. After his fourth straight bucket, however, UMBC locked him down and held him scoreless over the next 13:18 until halftime. Obi-Rapu added seven more points in the second half to cap another home court outburst, moving his home scoring average to 22.3 points per game.

However, despite Obi-Rapu’s 18 and a fifth straight double-figure scoring effort from center Lotanna Nwogbo, the Retrievers held Longwood to just 31.4 percent shooting after halftime.

The Lancers will now have a full week between games for Longwood’s finals week before taking the court again on Dec. 12 for a 6:30 p.m. road showdown against Richmond. That game, which airs on CBS 6 in Richmond, precedes the Lancers’ national television appearance on ESPNU on Dec. 15 at Oklahoma State.

“The biggest opponent we have right now is finals,” Gee said. “We have guys who have worked hard all semester long to do well academically. We challenged them after the game, saying that now that the horn sounded and the game’s over, they need to perform at a high level academically and finish strong. We have some guys who have really done a great job of working to their potential, and we need them to finish it off this week.”