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Wade, Lancers come alive in second half

In a tale of two halves, Longwood University’s men’s basketball team pulled together when it mattered most.

Riding a career-high 22 points from junior guard DeShaun Wade, Longwood outscored visiting Campbell University 50-33 after halftime to overcome a 12-point deficit and pull away to a 78-69 win Sunday evening, Jan. 10, at Willett Hall.

In only his fifth game back in the starting lineup after missing his first six games of the year with an injury, Wade was nearly perfect from the field Sunday, hitting 8-of-10 field goals and 5-of-7 3-pointers in the highest scoring night of his collegiate career. His 3-pointer with 16:30 left in the second half tied the game at 40 and erased Campbell’s last lead of the game. He followed with back-to-back treys in the final 2:22 to keep the Lancers ahead by multiple possessions.

“The thing we’ve really been focused on is staying the course,” Longwood Head Coach Griff Aldrich said. “Too often throughout this season we’ve had segments where we’d have breakdowns defensively, offensively, whatever it may be. Tonight, by no means did we play perfect or close to it, but at the same time I thought mentally there was a real resolve to at least stay focused, execute and play Longwood basketball.”

Playing with the closest semblance of a full lineup they have had all season, the Lancers had four players score in double figures, including Wade; fellow junior guard Juan Munoz, with 16 points; freshman guard Justin Hill, with 14 points; and sophomore forward Leslie Nkereuwem, with 11 points. Munoz added six assists — including on four of Wade’s five treys — and also got in on the second-half rally with 12 points after halftime.

Sunday’s game was only the fourth all season that Longwood had Wade, Nkereuwem and sophomore guard Heru Bligen active at the same time, and those three came through in a big way in the final 10 minutes by combining for 17 of Longwood’s final 28 points.

Their combined contributions helped the Lancers shake off early shooting woes in the first half and put together their most efficient performances of the season after halftime, sinking 17-of-25 (68%) shots from the floor and 6-of-9 from 3-point range after the break. That led to a 13-0 run beginning at the 17:09 mark in the second half, which erased Campbell’s 36-28 halftime lead and put the Lancers ahead for good.

“It was a great half,” Aldrich said. “The guys really responded. I’m extremely proud of them and how they battled back. But give Campbell credit. They made shot after shot after shot after shot. I thought they were pretty well guarded. I thought we needed to pick up our intensity a little bit to make it more difficult, but they’re making tough shots. We want people to shoot 17-footers, and they were taking them and making them.

“But I thought overall we did a really good job mentally of staying the course and running our offense. Other than the first five minutes where we took some very bad threes, I thought we did a really good job of staying focused on the offensive end.”

Now winners of two of their past three games in Willett Hall, the Lancers (3-11, 2-6 Big South) are on a three-day break before hitting the road once again for another Big South series.

This time it will be against the premier team of this year’s Big South cohort in preseason favorite and currently unbeaten Winthrop University (11-0, 8-0 Big South) this Thursday and Friday, Jan. 14-15, in Rock Hill, S.C.