Lancers erupt for first win of season

Published 8:02 am Tuesday, November 28, 2017

For a Longwood University men’s basketball team that entered Sunday winless and without six players due to injury, good fortune has been hard to come by this season. But sometimes one breakthrough is all it takes to start the turnaround.

Building on back-to-back losses at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Spartan Classic that were rife with flashes of potential but deflated by a lack of consistency, the Lancers broke through their early-season funk and exploded for the program’s highest-scoring performance of Head Coach Jayson Gee’s five-year tenure Sunday, routing visiting North Carolina Wesleyan College 107-78.

Bolstered by five double-digit scorers and a career-high 31 points from redshirt senior guard B.K. Ashe, the Lancers broke out for their first triple-digit game in three years.

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The 107 points were the most Longwood has produced in any of Gee’s 135 games coaching the Lancers. Also new highs during his tenure were the 43 made field goals and .672 shooting percentage Sunday.

“I really believe — despite the unfortunate results of the road trip (last week in Greensboro, North Carolina) — that this team turned a corner,” Gee said. “We came out focused, prepared and ready to go. (Assistant Coach Cody Anderson) did a really good job on the scouting report; guys were really prepared, and they all bought in.”

Sunday’s all-around performance saw Longwood shoot better than 65 percent in both halves while dishing a season-high 20 assists and giving up a season-low eight turnovers. The Lancers racked up 10 steals against N.C. Wesleyan (1-3) and turned 18 Bishop turnovers into a season-high 28 points.

Ashe had eight of Longwood’s 20 assists and, in only his sixth game as a Lancer, set career highs in points, assists and made field goals. He had 19 points in the first half and with his eight assists, contributed to 53 of Longwood’s points.

And just as Longwood has begun to round into form, so has the two-time all-NEC guard Ashe, who sat out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA regulations after transferring to Longwood from Mount St. Mary’s. His 31-point outburst Sunday was his third straight double-figure scoring game, bumping his averages during that stretch to a team-leading 22.7 points and 3.7 assists during that stretch.

“He’s just a really talented player that’s really getting into a groove, particularly offensively,” Gee said of Ashe, who came to Longwood after scoring more than 1,000 career points during an all-conference career at Mount St. Mary’s.

“I’d like to see him pick up the defense more, and he’s responded to that challenge. But what I like most about him is he’s so coachable. He really controls the vibe of our team. He has all these guys staying positive, looking forward to the future, working on getting better. It’s just a really encouraging thing to have him part of our program.”

Longwood’s four other starters took the early cue from Ashe, all finishing in double figures after Ashe opened the game with 11 points and two assists in the first 11 minutes. Redshirt junior guard Isaiah Walton followed him in the scoring column with 22 points — his team-leading third 20-point game of the season — while Ashe’s fellow Mount St. Mary’s transfer redshirt senior guard Charles Glover poured in 18 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from three-point range.

The Lancers (1-5) host Bluefield State College on Wednesday at 7 p.m.