Lancers struggle in loss to Gardner-Webb

Published 3:13 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Longwood men’s basketball ran into a buzzsaw on Wednesday night against Gardner-Webb. 

The Runnin’ Bulldogs (9-12, 4-2 Big South) drained 12-13 threes, which set a record for Big South three-point percentage in a game, to win 76-64, the team’s fourth straight victory. The visitors hit their first 11 threes, only three shy of the NCAA record of 14 made threes set in 2011 by Ohio State. 

Four guys scored in double figures for Gardner-Webb, with DQ Nicholas leading the way with a game high 20 points. He went 4-5 from three. Quest Aldridge was a perfect 5-5 from downtown, and Julien Soumaoro added 12 points. Caleb Robinson pitched in 16 points as well. 

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“This is a group that is battling inconsistency,” said Longwood Head Coach Griff Aldrich. “We kind of rolled out in the first half and eased into the game, and unfortunately Gardner-Webb had a mentality that they wanted to compete. We got beat.” 

Johnathan Massie led Longwood (14-8, 2-5 Big South) with 13 points, and 10 players scored for the Lancers. Walyn Napper added 10 points. 

However, the barrage of triples buried Longwood in the first half, and the hole proved too deep. Aldridge hit back-to-back threes at the start of the contest, and Gardner-Webb never let up. 

“We’re supposed to be the best defensive team in the league, and we were very soft,” Aldrich said. “I know they made shots. Give them credit. They made a lot of shots, and their offense was clicking. But at the same time, we didn’t make it hard. We constantly talked to our guys about when things aren’t going your way, you come together and elevate. And that didn’t really happen in the first half.” 

BREAKING DOWN THE GAME 

The Runnin’ Bulldogs hit all seven of their three-pointers in the first 20 minutes, and then hit their first four of the second half. 

The Lancers finally found their footing by bludgeoning their way to the basket and collecting stops on the other end. Longwood snared 20 offensive boards, 15 after halftime, which helped the team get back into the game. 

Over a 10-minute stretch, the Lancers trimmed the lead from 18 to 71-62 with 3:22 to go. 

Despite only hitting four shots in the run, Longwood pounded the glass and converted 13-15 from the foul line. The defense forced five turnovers and held Gardner-Webb to three made shots. 

During the run, Saxby Sunderland injected energy and fire off the bench as the sophomore grabbed three offensive boards and hit three free throws. Michael Christmas capped the run with a hook shot that cut the lead to nine. 

The Lancers had a chance to cut it, but a lid went over the basket, and Aldridge ended the run with a three with 2:07 to play. 

“We had two turnovers in the second half,” Aldrich said of his team’s response after halftime. “That tells you what we can play like. We had 15 offensive rebounds [in the second half]. It tells you what we can play like. But if we can’t get that consistency of fire and passion — I thought Saxby Sunderland was excellent. It was very apparent what it needs to look like when Saxby Sunderland got on (the floor). He was relentless and came in and made plays. And they were effort plays.” 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR LONGWOOD? 

Longwood returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 1 at High Point. Tip is set for 7 p.m., and the game will air on ESPNU and on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.