Lancers stop four-game skid against Winthrop

Published 3:02 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

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Johnathan Massie cosplayed as Superman on Saturday afternoon for Longwood men’s basketball. The junior was nearly perfect while pouring in 31 points and leading the team to an 84-74 win over Winthrop.

Massie seemingly couldn’t miss from anywhere and did only miss twice all night. He was 8-9 from the floor, 3-3 from three — including a halfcourt shot at the half, and 12-13 from the foul line.

In the process, he helped Longwood (15-11, 3-8 Big South) fend off Winthrop (15-11, 6-5 Big South) and snap a four-game skid in the process. He became the first Lancer to score 30 or more since Isaiah Walton had 30 at Winthrop on January 16, 2019 in a Longwood win.

“It was a great win for us,” said Longwood Head Coach Griff Aldrich. “Obviously, the conference slate has been a real challenge. We’ve had a lot of games where they’ve been close, and we haven’t finished them. Thankfully, we had a big enough margin there to withstand their end game run. This was a big win for us. I’ve been so proud of our guys. Their approach has been phenomenal. We talk about it a lot. It’s easy to be a champion and have a great attitude and compete when everything’s going your way. It’s hard to do that when things aren’t going your way. And that’s the true test of a champion and the true test of character. I think our guys have done that. And because they’ve done that, they’ve put themselves in a position to get better and be playing well.”


While Massie was turning into Mount Vesuvius, Michael Christmas erupted as well with a career best 25 points of his own. He drained five threes, half of Longwood’s 10 in the game.

“We don’t win the game if they don’t play the way they did,” Aldrich added. “Johnathan is a dynamic player. Anybody who’s watched us has seen his explosiveness. Trying to acclimate to the Longwood system, trying to learn what are the right shots, what are the tough shots, what are the wrong shots, other than once or twice where he tried to beat one man, beat another man, beat another man, obviously that’s not our style, but he played a pretty clean game as far as his offensive (approach). I’m really proud of his growth. It’s hard. When you transition, it’s hard. A lot of times people don’t understand. They think it is just plug and play. For some guys it is. For most guys it is not. For most guys, there is an adjustment process. John-John has gone through that and has done a great job.”

Winthrop was led by 20 points from Kasen Harrison as four players finished in double figures.

The Lancers nearly led wire-to-wire, thanks to a stifling defense in the first half that sucked the life from Winthrop and held the Eagles to seven made shots in 20 tries.

After Winthrop scored the opening basket, Longwood countered with a 17-4 run. Christmas canned his first three, and Massie scored eight straight. Walyn Napper capped it with a layup on the break to force a Winthrop timeout as the Lancers led 17-6.

“I thought Walyn was phenomenal, particularly in the first half,” Aldrich said. “He was a true point guard. The ball was flying all over the place, and he was just picking apart their ball screen defense. It helped that we made shots, but I thought his ball screen reads were outstanding. That really gave us a lot of life too.”

Between Massie and Christmas, along with five assists by Napper, the Lancers kept Winthrop at bay for the rest of the half. While the Eagles took 18 foul shots, Massie muscled home 18 points, and Christmas added 12, as part of a Lancer offense that shot 57 percent from the floor and 58 percent from three.

To cap it off, Massie banked home a half-court heave for a 42-28 advantage at the break.

After halftime, Longwood extended the lead to as much as 19 despite battling foul trouble. Winthrop attempted a season-high 42 free throws in the game, but Longwood had the counter punch every time Winthrop seemed like it would go on a run.

Many times, Massie had a hand in it. As aggressive as he was as a shotmaker in the first half, he was equally strong from the foul line in the second. He went 11-12 at the charity stripe in the final 20 minutes.

Christmas also served as a stopper with three of his five triples in the final 20 minutes, and he served up the dagger with 1:17 to play.

Winthrop had slowly whittled the Longwood lead to five, 78-73, but the Lancers broke the press. Massie flew up the court, and Christmas was all alone for a rim-rattling slam and an 80-73 lead.

Longwood hit free throws to close the game out. 


The Lancers are back in action in a week when they travel to Presbyterian on Saturday, Feb. 17. Tip is set for 2 p.m. at the Templeton Center in Clinton, South Carolina. The game will air on ESPN+ and on the radio on WVHL 92.9 Kickin’ Country.

“What I told the guys, we’ve got to keep the momentum going,” Aldrich said. “Our focus, rightly or wrongly, is always on us, and are we playing the way we want to play. I told these guys, I’m thrilled we won the game, but I’ve wanted us to play well. I want us to play well, play together, play aggressive, be tough. Some of the characteristics of Longwood basketball over the past few years. I think we’re starting to exhibit some of those (traits).”