Comeback falls short for Lancer women

Published 1:19 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Four Longwood women’s basketball players scored double figures, but a fourth-quarter comeback fell short as UNC Asheville claimed a 69-61 Big South Conference victory at the Joan Perry Brock Center Saturday.

Longwood bounced back from a sluggish first quarter, using a 10-0 spurt to open the fourth, getting back into the game. LU cut its deficit to 55-49 with 5:06 to play when freshman forward Otaifo Esenabhalu gathered the rebound of an Adriana Shipp-Davis shot to and put it up and in. UNC Asheville, though, scored the next four points, restoring a double-digit advantage over the next minute and a half and went on to earn the win.

Esenabhalu scored all of her career-high 10 points in the final period, adding eight boards, while junior Kiki McIntyre led the Lancers with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting for her second double- figure outing in three games. Janay Turner and Malea Brown tallied 11 points each.

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“We made some really good plays late to give ourselves a chance [late],” said Longwood head coach Erika Lang-Montgomery. “I wish that we can figure out exactly who we want to be. I think a lot teams are still trying to figure out their identity this time of year and we’re one of them. I think we show glimpses of the kind of team that we can be and now we just have to learn how to put it together for four quarters.”

The Bulldogs received 21 points and 14 rebounds from McKinley Brooks-Sumpter and 14 points and six boards from Mallory Bruce to help end a six-game losing streak against the Lancers.

“We had a slow start offensively, not how we wanted to, but I thought we were getting good looks, they just weren’t dropping for us,” said Lang-Montgomery. “Would’ve loved for us to have a been a little bit more aggressive to get to the free-throw line, though.

“I give a lot of credit to Asheville,” Lang-Montgomery continued. “They came out and played really, really hard today, and we didn’t match their effort or intensity as much as we needed to.”

UNC Asheville (7-10, 1-3 Big South) shot over 47 percent (26-for-55) for the game, including 7-of-10 in a 20-point third quarter. The Bulldogs led 15-7 after the first quarter, 33-19, at halftime and 53-37 through three.

Esenabhalu began the comeback with a turnaround jumper in the paint, then intercepted a Dakota McCaughan pass and Brown nailed a pullup, forcing timeout from UNCA. Esenabhalu cut the deficit to 53-43 on the first of two baskets following Shipp-Davis misses.

McIntyre then converted a driving layup with for a 53-45 game with 7:11 left. Brown drew a charge on the defensive end and Turner dropped in a floater to make it a six-point game at 53-47 with 6:31 remaining. Brooks-Sumpter hit a jumper for Asheville prior to Esenabhalu’s second putback of the frame.

That was as close as Longwood got as the Lancers fell to 3-13 and 1-3 in Big South play in the loss.

The Lancers finished 23-for-71 (32.4 percent) from the floor. After a 2-of-18 start, LU shot 50 percent or better in both the second and fourth quarters. Longwood led in points off turnovers (19-15), points in the paint (28-24), fastbreak points (7-2) and bench scoring (27-16).


Longwood is back in action Wednesday against USC Upstate at the Joan Perry Brock Center at 7 p.m.

“We have to turn the page,” Lang-Montgomery said. “You don’t want to sit on one game too long and I definitely see us making some progress in each game, and like I said, now it’s up to us to put two halves of basketball together. We got a very good Upstate team that’s at the top of our league and then we got to go to Gardner-Webb on Saturday.”