Lancers recover to pull out road win

Published 4:48 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Leaders stand out on the road, and both Walyn Napper and DA Houston stepped up in a big way for Longwood men’s basketball at Presbyterian. 

The duo combined for 41 points, and Longwood (16-11, 4-8 Big South) took down Presbyterian (12-16, 4-9 Big South) 81-73. 

With Napper and Houston providing the leadership, the rest of the Lancers fell right in line in an emotional win. The team was without Johnathan Massie, the reigning Big South Player of the Week who had scored 31 points a week ago, but multiple players stepped in and filled the void. 

“In the locker room, Walyn immediately facetimed John- John,” said Longwood Head Coach Griff Aldrich. “I’m just really proud of these guys. It’s been a hard stretch in the early part of conference. These guys have fought through, and they are a connected bunch, and they love one another. 

“John-John is in Houston at a funeral, and to have the joy of him being in the celebration with us and seeing his big smile, I’m just really proud of this group. The wins and losses are obviously important, but I’m really proud of the fight of this group.” 

Now, the Lancers have won back-to-back games, including one on the road that saw them close as well as they have all season. Napper went a career best 14-17 from the foul line, and the Lancers went 27-35 from the free throw line to seal things up. 


While Longwood led by four at the half, Presbyterian roared out of the gates to start the second half to retake the lead thanks to Marquis Barnett. He had 22 points for the Blue Hose, with 17 coming after halftime. 

Houston helped settle things down with two foul shots that righted the ship, and Napper ripped off five straight points shortly thereafter for a 49-44 lead. 

“They’ve got great chemistry,” Aldrich said of his team. “It’s fun to watch these guys transform a little bit in the middle of the year. To see the leadership of Walyn and DA in particular, just taking hold of the team. You kind of see it a little bit on the court, but you really, its on the practice floor. This team has been really different the past two weeks, and I’m just proud of the fight.” 

Presbyterian trimmed the lead to 52-50 a few minutes later, but the Lancer defense proceeded to hold Presbyterian scoreless for the next 5:46. 

Meanwhile, as the defense did its thing, Napper juiced up the Lancer offense, and four players scored amid a 13-0 run. Napper capped it with a layup to give Longwood a 65-50 lead. 

Every time Presbyterian tried to charge back in, the Lancers had answers the rest of the way. Napper, Michal Christmas — who had 12 points on the day — Jesper Granlund and Houston all hit foul shots, and the Blue Hose never got closer than seven points. 

The win gives Longwood the season sweep of the Blue Hose with four games to play. 


“I was disappointed that we started out the second half a little sluggish,” Aldrich said. “I guess I’ll throw those halftime inspirational speeches away, but they didn’t quit. I remember looking back up, and it was like 41-39 and we were up, and I was like, ‘How in the world are we up right now?’ It felt like we were down 10. But what I told the guys is, we didn’t play great tonight, and we’re still up 15. 

“They made plays to win it, which was great, but this team has a higher ceiling. And to do it on the road in such a tough place, Presbyterian has won their last three home games and almost beat Asheville [on the road], this is a team that’s been playing very well. I thought our guys came out and handled business on the road, which shows a lot of maturity.” 


Now, the Lancers turn their sights to UNC Asheville. The two teams meet on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Joan Perry Brock Center, with the game sponsored by the YMCA. The game will air on ESPN+ and on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.