LU women’s hoops gets first win Sunday

Published 1:28 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A career-high 24 points from sophomore forward Kemari Jones and a near triple-double from guard Ciarah Bennett helped Longwood University’s women’s basketball team rally from an eight-point halftime deficit to a 72-59 road win over University of Massachusetts Lowell Sunday afternoon inside the Tsongas Center.

Jones had 14 of her game-high 24 points in the third quarter as Longwood utilized a 12-4 run over the opening four minutes of the second half. Matching her previous career high of 14 points a season ago in the third quarter, Jones finished the afternoon 8-of-13 from the floor, with seven rebounds, three steals and a block.

“Kemari Jones was a warrior today,” said Longwood Head Coach Bill Reinson. “She may not be our highest scorer every game, but she might just be our most important player. She brings energy and intangibles that help you win games.”

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A product of Melbourne, Fla., Jones, along with her frontcourt teammate Eboni Gilliam, a senior forward, erupted for 21 of Longwood’s 26 points in the third quarter.

“I felt like I was able to get my confidence back after my injury last year,” Jones said. “I’ve overcome so much in the past year in terms of injuries and I give all the glory to God for helping me through it. I gave it all I had to help my team come out on top today.”

After missing the opening two games of the season with injury, Bennett found her groove, stuffing the stat sheet with 11 points, seven steals and six assists in 19 minutes. The dynamic, quick Bennett recorded six of her team-high seven steals in the second half and was part of a Longwood defense that recorded 21 steals and forced the River Hawks into 36 turnovers.

Jones and Bennett were two of Longwood’s four players to finish in double figures, as junior guard Autumn Childress added 10 points and Gilliam finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three steals.

In addition, the Lancers had 18 assists on 27 made baskets with Bennett and Micaela Ellis leading the way with six apiece.

After completing a stretch of four straight games on the road to open the season, Longwood (1-3) will have its home opener Saturday against West Virginia University Institute of Technology. That game is set for a 2 p.m. opening tip.