The men’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night as it blew out the Longwood Lancers, 79-61.
The Pirates (9-2), coming off a game in which only four players scored, had nine players on the scoreboard in this game, including three who scored season-highs. Every active Pirate played in the game.
Freshman center Kevin Johnson, who started the game in place of Eugene Teague, scored a career-high 11 points and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds. Johnson played 24 minutes Wednesday, one more than he had in the 10 previous games combined.
“I didn’t know I was going to start,” Johnson said.
With 12:09 left in the second half Johnson made a hustle play in which he saved the ball from out of bounds, passed it behind his head, posted up and hit a layup which extended the lead to 31.
“That was insane,” Johnson said. “That was just a hustle play.”
The largest lead the Pirates held was 33 and it came at the 11:19 mark in the second half.
Head coach Kevin Willard said that Johnson started because Teague’s ankle sprain is “not doing terrific,” but said the production of Johnson was encouraging.
“I thought he did some good things,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “11 (points) and eight (rebounds) in 24 minutes is great.”
Junior Brian Oliver scored a team second-best 13 points, which is tied for the most he’s scored this season.
“It feels great,” Oliver said. It feels amazing.
Oliver said that he started to doubt himself during his recent slump.
“All I needed was a chance,” Oliver said. “I know what I’m capable of, I’ve done it before. It was one of those things where it just wasn’t dropping. I got too down on myself.”
Oliver said that this game helped him to feel better about his own game, and how it became “easier” to shoot.
“Just seeing that ball go in, getting that good pass, everything comes together,” Oliver said. “As a shooter, once you see that one go in, it’s so much easier for you to keep shooting. Even if you miss the next one, you always think the next one is going in.”
Junior forward Fuquan Edwin, who scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting including a perfect 3-3 from the 3-point line, said the team can gain confidence from the win, and mentioned Brian Oliver.
“Brian Oliver looked pretty good today,” Edwin said. “He made some shots which we need him to do.”
Willard said that he played Oliver 32 minutes to try to get him out of his shooting slump.
“I was determined that no matter what he was going to get 30-plus minutes to see if he could somehow find the basket and get out of a very bad slump,” Willard said. “I thought he played much better once he got in the flow of the game.”
Sophomore Freddie Wilson tied his career high with seven points on 3-5 shooting from the floor and dished out three assists in 18 minutes.
Willard said that he was happy with the result of the game, especially how the team took care of the Lancers.
“It’s a W,” Willard said. “I’m glad we did what we had to do. We came out with maturity.”
The Pirates will return to action 8 p.m. Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., as they take on LIU.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at email@example.com.