Longwood Lancers struggle in road loss

Published 12:03 am Sunday, February 4, 2024

A’lahn Sumler couldn’t miss on Saturday afternoon, and he led Charleston Southern past the Longwood Lancers 83-77 with a career best 34 points.

Sumler’s effort, plus 16 points apiece from Taje’ Kelly and Quentin Bolton, Jr., was enough for Charleston Southern (8-14, 4-5 Big South) to muscle past four Lancers (14-10, 2-7 Big South) who scored in double figures.

Elijah Tucker and Michael Christmas matched with 17 points apiece while Walyn Napper tallied a team-best 21. Emanuel Richards chipped in 11 points for his second game in double figures.

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Sumler helped the home side get off to a hot start with 12 points in the first half, but he went supernova after halftime when he scored 22.

“Disappointing game on several levels,” said Longwood Lancers Head Coach Griff Aldrich. “Credit Charleston Southern. Shorthanded, the fire that they played with to start the game, if they didn’t make shots, they got offensive rebounds. It felt like they were playing in fifth gear. We were playing in third gear. So I really give them credit for coming out, and they were the aggressor. That was a disappointment because that’s all we’ve been talking about the past two days. I was really hoping we could get a carryover from the second half of High Point, but we just didn’t have it today.”

Between Sumler and Bolton, the Bucs jumped out to an early 15-point lead.

However, Longwood refused to go away. The defense started generating stops, and Christmas went to work on the block. He had 11 first half points, and he helped Longwood creep back into the game.

The Lancers slowly whittled the lead down as defense turned to offense, and Napper drained a three at the halftime buzzer to cut the lead to 34-29 at the break.

Longwood Lancers close the gap 

Tucker got rolling early in the second half, and he helped Longwood close the gap to 36-33 early. Bolton drained a three, but Tucker answered with a layup. Sumler immediately connected on a triple, and CSU slowly pushed the lead back to double figures.

“Elijah’s playing with energy and some competitiveness,” Aldrich said. “I didn’t love the start of the game. It felt like we were shocked by their physicality. I felt like Elijah adjusted well to that and really impacted the game positively.”

Once again, the Lancers dug deep, and Richards and Napper led the charge back late. Richards had all 11 points after halftime, and Napper had 14 of his 21. Unfortunately, Sumler answered seemingly every time. 

“Emanuel is going to be a good player for us,” Aldrich said. “I’m excited about him and his future. He’s going to be a good player. He’s a competitive kid. That’s what we need.”

The Lancers crawled back within three, 73-70, after a Richards layup and Tucker foul shot, but Kelly, Sumler and Bolton kept CSU in front in the final 90 seconds.

“We need a little bit more competitiveness,” Aldrich said. “I think you have to be able to execute, you have to be able to sit down and defend, and there were too many plays where we had lapses where we let somebody drive straight to the basket after a timeout. We leave somebody wide open underneath the rim. You’re not going to win conference games when you make miscues like that.”

What’s next for the Lancers?

Longwood returns home to host USC Upstate on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Joan Perry Brock Center. The game will stream on ESPN+ and on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.