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Lancers fall twice to UNC Asheville

Led by strong defense and a big third quarter, University of North Carolina (UNC) Asheville held the high scoring Longwood University women’s basketball team’s offense in check to win 68-52 on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 31, at Kimmel Arena.

Kai Carter turned in a career night for UNC Asheville (4-5, 3-1 Big South) as the Bulldogs had three players score in double figures. Carter poured in 26 points and added 14 rebounds while knocking down six 3-pointers. Nadiria Evans added 12 points and Amaryah Corpening pitched in 10 points as the trio helped Asheville break open a defensive struggle in the third quarter.

Sophomore guard Kyla McMakin led Longwood (3-6, 2-2 Big South) on a cold shooting night for the Lancers, dropping 18 points along with three steals. Junior forward Akila Smith added her sixth double-double of the season, with 12 points and 17 rebounds, as nine different Lancers scored.

Longwood’s defense kept the game close in the opening 20 minutes as the Lancers held Asheville to 30% shooting (9-for-30) from the floor, but the Lancers were ice cold as well, shooting just 23.3% (7- for-30) from the field in the first half. Longwood trailed by just five at the break.

“I thought in the first half — especially the second quarter — was some of the best defense we played,” Lancers Head Coach Rebecca Tillett said. “We just couldn’t convert on the other end. So I think we’re trying to fix it in terms of generating it from the defensive end to the offensive end, but, goodness, we couldn’t get shots to fall.”

In the pivotal third quarter, Asheville’s offense got going, knocking down 7-of-9 shots, including 3-of-3 from long range. The outburst stretched the lead from five to 18 points. Carter drilled two threes and scored eight of her 26 points in the frame to go with four boards. Evans, who poured in 34 points in the opening game of the series Wednesday, Dec. 30, scored seven of her 12 points in the frame.

“I thought we had some good defensive possessions, but UNC Asheville was still finding some ways to get to the line or get it to the hot hand,” Tillett said. “They had a hot shooter in Carter, and I think they did a great job of playing both nights to who was hot.”

Longwood fell 74-69 to the host Bulldogs on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Lancer defense tightened up again in the fourth quarter and held Asheville to 29.4% shooting (5-for-17) from the floor, but by then the damage had been done.