The Longwood men’s basketball team welcomed unbeaten conference foe Presbyterian into Willett Hall on Jan. 16, their fifth conference game of the season, attempting to bounce back from a tight 83-80 loss at Hampton on Jan. 11.
However, the Blue Hose had different ideas, as their scathing 19-4 start in the first 10 minutes mounted a hill too steep for Longwood to climb on Thursday night, taking down Longwood 74-67 despite moments where the Lancers seemed to close the deficit. The loss was the sixth for the blue and white over their last seven games.
Presbyterian led by as many as 27 points in the second half, where the Lancers found themselves having to fight a lid on the basket, shooting 2-18 from three in the first, and 6-28 overall. Despite the sour look of the percentage, second-year head coach Griff Aldrich didn’t see it as necessarily taking bad shots.
“I would say a lot of those threes felt like they were good threes…We shot 18 threes in the first half, 14 of them were uncontested,” said Aldrich. “We look at each possession if it was a good offensive possession, not whether the ball went in.”
He continued: “My view on the game is it’s passive versus aggressive. I thought the effort was there, but I didn’t think it was aggressive effort.”
Aldrich gave freshman guard Heru Bligen his first career start, scoring 11 points, matching his career high, on 4-4 shooting, and was second on the team in rebounds with five.
Bligen was only outscored by redshirt sophomore guard Juan Munoz, who scored 12 points on 3-11 shooting. Senior guard Jaylon Wilson also got the starting nod from Aldrich after leaving their game against Hampton early with an apparent injury.
Munoz, who is in the midst of a solid stretch of scoring outputs, at times sparked a Lancer scoring run, only to be halted by Presbyterian’s hot shooting. The Blue Hose held off a late run after a few steals by Munoz and junior forward Jordan Cintron, only closing the deficit to as few as seven points.
After falling behind early and having an uphill battle for the duration of the game, Aldrich looked back at the contest and thought the teams' shots were generally good looks, but just weren't falling.
“I probably should have run a play or two to get the ball closer to the rim, but at the same time, I felt like we were getting good shots for the most part,” Aldrich said. “Not that you live or die by the three, but when they’re good shots, you can’t tell shooters to stop shooting.”
“Where I probably was a little bit disappointed was, I thought we took a few quick ones where I thought they could have pump-faked…I thought we settled for quick threes. The reality is we are a three-point shooting team, so you can’t have a wholesale change in the middle of a game.”
With Big South play in full swing, the Lancers, according to Aldrich, need to be the aggressor from the onset in order to compete in a conference where any team can win on any given night. Thursday’s contest was the beginning of a three games in five days test for the Lancers, as they will travel to Campbell on Saturday and return home on Monday for a matchup with the Bulldogs from UNC Asheville, which will tip-off at 7 p.m.