Longwood Lancers prepare to defend their Big South crown

Published 12:56 pm Friday, March 3, 2023

The Big South champions are about to defend their crowns.

Both Longwood’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have wrapped up their regular seasons and were headed to Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend to compete in the Big South Championship. On the line: a return trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament.

It was on that floor a year ago that both teams emerged victorious and earned their first-ever trips to the NCAA Division I Tournament, grabbing headlines that put Farmville on the national basketball map.

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“Millions of people heard about Longwood last year from their incredible success,” said Tim Hall,

Longwood’s athletics director. “It was here at the Big South Tournament that the spotlight began to shine really bright on the teams. These are critical, intense games, and every team wants to win so badly. There’s simply nothing like March basketball.”


This year’s senior class was honored during halftime of the last game at Willett Hall. They include #0 Leslie Nkereuwem, #24 Cameron O’Conner, #3 DeShaun Wade, #1 Isaiah Wilkins, #4 Zac Watson and #2 Nate Lliteras. (Photo by Connor Thompson)

Both programs have earned a first-round bye. The women, seeded sixth in the conference tournament, were scheduled to play their quarterfinal matchup Thursday night against Campbell University. The second-seeded men play Friday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Presbyterian-Campbell first-round game. 

The faces may be slightly different than last year, but some things remain the same. Both squads pride themselves on toughness, grit, and smothering defense that remains the hallmark of Longwood basketball.

It’s the type of play that has captivated students and community members, who rally to the cry of Pack The Hall on game days and have closed out the men’s regular season with sellouts against Radford and UNC Asheville.

Community steps up to support 

Leading that energy has been a packed Southside Virginia community section, who have made Willett Hall the place to be on game day.

“The crowds have consistently grown in size and engagement,” said Farmville Mayor Brian Vincent, who is a season ticket holder. “These teams have brought something special to our community. It’s the epitome of what makes sports so uplifting, bringing us all together, united. They are not just Longwood teams, they are Farmville teams.”

That energy has led to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the men, who rely on a deep bench to find scoring threats from everywhere on the floor. The Lancer bench has spent the season ranked in the top-20 in the country for their production, contributing more than 28 points per game en route to a 20-11 record. 

The men’s team is led by Isaiah Wilkins, a graduate student who played for Virginia Tech and Wake Forest before joining the Lancers. Averaging more than 13 points per game while playing a variety of positions, this week Wilkins was named to the First Team All-Conference.

To hear more from the players, watch our video below.

Changes coming for Lancers

Next season, the Lancers will play in their new home, the Joan Perry Brock Center, which is taking shape next to Willett Hall on campus. Construction is slated to finish this summer, and JPB will begin hosting events soon thereafter. Already, says Trey Eggleston, assistant vice president of university priorities, interest in the building is strong.

“We’re seeing interest in season tickets outpace expectations,” said Eggleston. “Part of that is price – $100 per seat for 30-plus men’s and women’s home games is hard to beat. But it certainly wouldn’t be this strong if we weren’t seeing competitive basketball week in and week out on the floor. Every shot is exciting, and the energy is tremendous.”

Longwood is asking fans who are interested in purchasing season tickets next year to fill out an interest form found at the athletics website LongwoodLancers.com. Those who fill out an interest form will have priority access to ticket purchases and seat selection later this summer.

Tournament quarterfinals and semifinals games will be streamed on ESPN+. The men’s Sunday final will air on ESPN2, while the women’s Sunday championship game will air on ESPNU.

You can read more about the post season honors the Lancers earned in the Big South Conference here.