Longwood Lancers gut out win at Charleston Southern

Published 3:11 am Thursday, January 5, 2023

The best teams win in the margins, and DA Houston helped the Longwood Lancers win the margins on Wednesday night at Charleston Southern in a 79-74 win.

Longwood (11-5, 3-0 Big South) outscored Charleston Southern (5-9, 1-2 Big South) by 22 in Houston’s 23 minutes on the floor.

Houston finished with nine points and a team-best six rebounds to go with three assists and plenty of hustle plays. The team fed off his energy and erased an early 10-point hole for its sixth straight win.

“DA, its just incredible even just him coming back [the impact he’s had],” said Longwood Lancers head coach Griff Aldrich. “He’s only practiced a couple of days, but walking on the court, his approach, his intensity—I’ve told him, in so many ways, he embodies who we want to be with Longwood basketball. He’s tough. He wants to be great. He wants to do things the right way. It just lifts the energy of the team.”

Multiple Longwood Lancers score in double figures

Four other Longwood Lancers scored in double figures and two others delivered at least seven points. Isaiah Wilkins scoring a team-best 15. When Longwood needed a big shot late, Wilkins delivered. Jesper Granlund tied a career best with 14 points, and Walyn Napper and DeShaun Wade each added 11. The Lancers are now 6-1 when four players score in double figures.

“The guys did an incredible job, and I’m not an easy grader,” said Longwood head coach Griff Aldrich. “I thought their preparation the past two days was probably some of the best preparation that we’ve had mentally all season long. Coming into this game, I felt like these guys were ready to go and ready to compete. Coming in and being able to take the punches from Charleston Southern in the first half and even in the second half and being able to find a way to come out and win was really a great testament to the team’s resilience.”

Charleston Southern had four players finish in double figures, with Claudell Harris Jr. and Tahlik Chavez each scoring more than 20 points. Chavez had a game-high 22, and Harris added 20.

Harris helped the Bucs get off to a hot start and poured in 13 of his team’s first 19 points to take a 19-9 lead with 11 minutes to play in the first half.

“The biggest issue is that we were outcompeted in the first half,” Aldrich said. “This is part of the transition that Longwood and this team has to get comfortable with: the name on the front of your jersey means something. You are the hunted. We may know that intellectually, but I’m not sure we fully appreciate that in our heart yet.

“Credit to Charleston Southern Coach Radebaugh and his crew. They were ferocious. They were loose and aggressive and really took it to us at the front end. and I’ve got to do a better job of not just preparing our guys for the X’s and O’s but preparing them to be attacked. They have a bullseye on their chest.”

Longwood digs in

Longwood dug in, and Wilkins drained a three off a Houston find to cut the lead to seven. The two sides traded buckets over the next eight minutes, with CSU extending the lead back to nine on a Chavez three.

Yet as they’ve done throughout the season, the Lancers closed the half strong. Nate Lliteras hit a pair of foul shots, and Houston ripped off five straight points to close the half. He hit two foul shots to cut the lead to 32-27 before hitting a buzzer-beating three after the Lancer defense forced a turnover. Wilkins found him on the wing, and he hit nothing but nylon at the horn to pull Longwood within two, 32-30.

After a quick flurry by CSU to start the second half, the Longwood defense hit a higher gear, and the offense followed suit. The Lancers ripped off a 17-2 run over four and a half minutes to turn a seven-point deficit into a 49-41 lead with 13:50 to play.

Granlund started the run with a three, and he scored 11 of his 14 after halftime. Three other Lancers scored during the run, with DeShaun Wade finding Michael Christmas at the cup for Longwood’s first lead of the night. Wade then muscled home an offensive rebound for an and-one and the 49-41 lead.

From that point on, the Lancers never trailed. Wilkins extended the lead to 10 with 2:05 to play. Longwood kept Charleston Southern at arm’s length despite Chavez hitting three triples in the final two minutes.

What’s coming next

The Lancers are 7-2 in their past nine games, with seven of those games on the road. The team heads home to host Winthrop on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Big South Championship game. Tip is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be aired on ESPN+ and on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.