North Carolina Central Hoops wins third consecutive non-conference contest

title image via Juan Richardson

Courtesy of North Carolina Central Athletics

Longwood Logo


Longwood 12-2,0-0 Big South

N.C. Central Logo


Winner N.C. Central 7-7,0-0 MEAC

Longwood35 35 70
N.C. Central30 49 79

The North Carolina Central University men’s basketball team defeated Longwood 79-70 on Wednesday, getting even with a team that beat the Eagles earlier in the season. Redshirt senior Ja’Darius Harris led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. 

Longwood came into McDougald-McLendon Arena as the 25th ranked mid-major team in the country by and is top-10 in the country in scoring defense allowing an average of 60.2 points. Fast break points and free throws were the difference in NCCU breaking Longwood’s 60-point threshold. The Eagles went 31-of-36 from the charity stripe finishing at an .861 percentage compared to the Lancers’ .655 percentage performance. 

NC Central was down six points before the first media timeout of the game. The Eagles climbed back to get within one with under 14 minutes in the first half thanks to a three from Harris, a pair of free throws from senior Fred Cleveland Jr. and a layup by sophomore Perry Smith Jr.

The Lancers would go back and forth trading buckets with NCCU but didn’t allow the Eagles to take the lead or tie the ball game early on as they had a 35-30 advantage at the half. The biggest lead for Longwood in the first half was eight points and LU’s Johnathan Massie led all scorers with 11 points going into half-time. 

Cleveland and Devin Gordon were the leading scorers through 20 minutes for North Carolina Central with eight and seven points, respectively. Four different Eagles tied for two rebounds at the half against the second ranked rebounding margin team in the nation. The only shot advantage that the Lancers had over NCCU at halftime was field goal percentage (.407).

The first tie of the game came within the first minute of the second half after a three-pointer from Gordon and two made free throws after an offensive rebound from Emmanuel Izunabor. Sophomore Po’Boigh Kingcashed in more fast break points for the Eagles and Gordon and Harris made back-to-back threes heading into the 16-minute media timeout trailing by three.

Harris scored seven straight points that began a 13-0 run for NCCU as the team would take the lead for the first time with 14 minutes left to play. The game would tie once more with five minutes remaining before NC Central took the lead again and never relinquished it. The Eagles made all ten of their free throws in the final minute of play. Gordon, Cleveland and King all joined Harris in double figure scoring with Cleveland adding six assists.

Massie finished with 20 points and nine rebounds for Longwood.

NC Central won’t play another game in 2023 as the calendar year closes but will be back in action at McDougald-McLendon Arena on Jan. 3 to face Truett McConnell to open the new year. 

Next Game:
Truett McConnell
1/3/2024 | 7:00 PM

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