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Trio to lead LU in tourney

By Halle Parker

Special to The Farmville Herald

In Longwood University men’s basketball’s 92-81 road victory at Radford University Saturday, seniors Lotanna Nwogbo, Shaquille Johnson and Tra’Vaughn White carried over 20 points each, matching the tone set by the trio throughout the regular season.

The win allowed the Lancers to dramatically jump into the eighth-seed from last place less than a week before the opening games of the Big South tournament. With the jump, the team will face No. 9 Charleston Southern in the first round of tournament play on Thursday. The Lancers will look to continued leadership by those three seniors through both points and presence; men’s basketball head coach Jayson Gee believes the trio is among the top 10-15 players in the conference.

“Certainly we’re all going to rely on those three. I don’t know if they necessarily have to score, but they need to be on the top of their game in order for us to continue to advance in the tournament,” said Gee. White added, “It’s whatever it takes from us three. We just have to continue to lead this team and live with the result.”

Each have a different role: Nwogbo as a dominating force within the paint, White to score and distribute and Johnson as “everything in between,” said Gee. All of them average over 10 points per game with Nwogbo as Longwood’s top scorer, averaging 17.2 points per game against Big South opponents. White sits second to Nwogbo with 15.2 points; both sit within the top 10 Big South scorers.

“I really think it all comes down to us being seniors and we’re just trying to give it all for our last shot,” said White.

Outside of scoring, Johnson averages a team-leading 4.6 assists; at the same time, he also holds the highest turnover count of the Lancers with a matching 4.6 per game.

“That risk is the reason why he’s one of the leading assists people in our league. He’s one of the few guys on our team that can create so we sort of live with that,” said Gee.

Because Johnson’s high risk, high reward-style was key for Longwood’s offensive success, moving the focus from giving away turnovers to defending them, not allowing the opponents to score off of their transitions, according to Gee.

Last year’s tournament saw Longwood upset Charleston Southern, seeded first at the time, to make a run to the semifinal before falling to Winthrop, 71-58.