Lancers make history in style

Published 4:42 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Men’s basketball team dominates to win first D-I postseason game

Longwood University’s men’s basketball team was more than ready for the first postseason game in the program’s NCAA Division I era. The Lancers proved it by pulling away from the University of Southern Mississippi for a 90-68 blowout home victory in the first round of the Roman College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

Officials in a Longwood athletics press release noted that as it played in front of an electric home crowd, Longwood controlled the game from the opening tip and unleashed a three-point onslaught to rout Southern Miss (20-13), a team that finished tied for second in Conference USA. The officials continued by stating that the Lancers never trailed, hit a season-high 18 three-pointers — their most since hitting a school-record 20 against VMI on Dec. 12, 2011 — and pulled away with a 49-point second half.

The release cited that Longwood (16-17) will now move on to the CBI quarterfinals where it will face Big East Conference foe DePaul University (16-15) after the Blue Demons defeated Central Michigan University 100-86 Wednesday night in Chicago. As formally announced Friday morning by Longwood, the quarterfinal game will be held at McGrath-Phillips Arena on the DePaul campus in Chicago on Monday with tipoff set for 8:03 p.m.

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“Jaylon Wilson got into a rhythm, Shabooty got into a rhythm, but at the end of the day, what I would say more than anything is our guys really wanted it,” Longwood first-year Head Coach Griff Aldrich said in the release.

Aldrich has now led the Lancers to the second-most wins of the program’s 15-year Division I era, the release highlighted.

He continued by saying that the Lancers “really wanted to compete, they wanted to win and that really showed. Not that Southern Miss didn’t — they’re an extremely well-coached team, and they’re a senior-laden team. But I think our guys right from the get-go had a commitment to really competing and going right at them.”

The Lancers, who led 41-32 at halftime, overwhelmed the Golden Eagles by shooting 52.9 percent from three-point range, going 18-for-34.

Wilson, a junior guard, scored a game-high 23 points and added eight rebounds. Junior guard Shabooty Phillips poured in 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds, forward Damarion Geter had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, and junior forward JaShaun Smith added 12 points and four boards.

The release cited that Longwood became the first team all season to score at least 80 points against Southern Miss.

From three-point land for the Lancers, Wilson went 5-for-9, Smith went 4-for-6, junior guard Seán Flood went 3-for-3 and Phillips went 3-for-7, while sophomore forward Jordan Cintron, Geter and redshirt freshman guard Juan Munoz hit one apiece.

“That’s our offense,” Phillips said in the release, which pointed out that six of his seven assists led to three-pointers by his teammates. “Coach always says move the ball, and we shoot every day. We shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. Jaylon, I always tell him to stay ready. He was aggressive, and he made shots tonight.”

Officials stated in the release that the victory was Longwood’s biggest win thus far under Aldrich, a finalist for the Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year award who has led the Lancers to an 11-5 non-conference record in his first season. As the No. 125 team in the rankings, Southern Miss is the highest-ranked team Longwood has defeated this season and the second-highest of the program’s 15-year Division I era, trailing only the 70-69 road win Longwood pulled out over No. 113 Columbia University on Nov. 28, 2015.

“I’m really excited for these guys,” Aldrich said of his players in the release. “This is a signature win. Southern Miss is very good. They’re a team that won 20 games, and to play the way we did and really to control the game throughout, that’s a big compliment and a big testament to our guys.”

The release also highlighted that the Lancers were equally as dominant on the defensive end of the floor Wednesday night, holding Southern Miss to 41.5 percent shooting from the field, 22-of-53, and winning the rebounding battle, 34-27. None of Southern Miss’ starters scored in double figures, as freshman reserve Gabe Watson led the team with 17 points off the bench.

Longwood was opportunistic as well, converting seven Southern Miss turnovers into 18 points and scoring off every single giveaway, including four three-pointers, officials said in the release.

“This was reminiscent of the play we had earlier in the year,” Aldrich said of Longwood’s defensive effort in the release. “I have to go back and figure out if we were exhausted during conference, but the performance we had tonight was spectacular defensively. They were right there where they needed to be.”