Following an impressive double-digit win over Tubby Smith's High Point Panthers on Jan. 25, Longwood was unable to replicate the same hot shooting performance this past Thursday night against Radford, falling to the Big South preseason favorite 67-55.
Backed by a 21-point performance by All-Conference selection senior guard Travis Fields Jr., Radford held the Lancers to 31.6 percent shooting, with 41 of their 57 shots coming from beyond the arc. Fourteen of Longwood's 18 made field goals were three-pointers.
The bulk of the Lancer's three-point attempts came in the second half, most coming in the final 13 minutes of the game when Radford began building a lead, causing Longwood to become excited from long range. They took 17 threes in this time frame, which frustrated head coach Griff Aldrich who insisted the team needed to be more relaxed offensively, especially in the second period.
"You got to be composed and we need some guys to step up and calm us down on the court. We didn't get that tonight unfortunately," Aldrich said, referring to the pace of play down the stretch.
He continued, "We didn't run our offense in the second half."
The first half was a back-and-forth battle between the two, as the lead changed six times, but the Highlanders eventually would hop into the driver's seat, as they kept their 30-22 halftime lead for the rest of the game, en-route to the victory. Though only scoring 22 points in the first half, Aldrich was pleased with the effort offensively to move and find open looks.
"I thought for probably the first five or ten minutes [of the game] we did a really nice job," Aldrich said. "The ball was moving, there was a good pace, we were getting some really good open looks and then we stopped cutting."
The Lancers were led with 17 points from redshirt sophomore guard Juan Munoz, with senior forward JaShaun Smith followng closely behind with 15 of his own.
The loss saw Longwood fall to 7-15 on the year and 2-7 in Big South Conference play with nine games remaining on the regular season schedule. Aldrich said the key to consistent success on the court the rest of the way is to be the aggressor in each contest.
The team got off to a good start on that trend this past Saturday, as they travelled to Boiling Springs, North Carolina to take on the defending Big South champion Gardner-Webb Running Bulldogs.
Just like the game before, the first half was a back-and-forth affair, but the Lancers would, this time, take a 38-35 lead into the halftime break. The same trend would follow suit in the second half, but Gardner-Webb would respond to tie the game at 68 on a deep three pointer from Jose Perez with only 14 seconds to go.
Longwood's senior guard Shabooty Phillips nearly won the game in regulation, but his shot rimmed out as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, there were four lead changes in the first three and a half minutes, but the Lancers would get the last laugh on a massive three pointer from sophomore transfer guard DeShaun Wade to give Longwood the lead, one they would not sacrifice en-route to an 84-81 victory.
After the game in an interview with Longwood athletics, Aldrich said, "We played hard. We played connected, for the most part. I didn't like how we started the game; we were a little tentative out of the gate, and that wasn't what we wanted. But I do think we came back and for the most part were the aggressor throughout the game. Even when they did come back, I thought they had to make some big, heroic plays. We didn't get into the bonus until overtime. This was just a different game."
As the Big South Tournament inches closer and closer, the team will need to continue to build on performances like these to raise their standing. They will have their next opportunity to do that on Thursday evening, as they will play host to the Bucs from Charleston Southern with a 7 p.m. tip.