CONWAY — Longwood senior guard Erin Neal came into the week averaging a modest 7.7 points per game, but she seized the spotlight in the Lancers’ Big South tournament debut Wednesday.
Neal scored a career-high 22 points to power No. 7-seeded Longwood to a 70-63 win over No. 10 Charleston Southern in the first game of the women’s tournament inside The HTC Center.
Neal connected on 7-of-13 shots and three 3-pointers as conference newcomer Longwood (12-18) pulled away down the stretch with help from the team’s other veterans. Senior guard Crystal Smith added 17 points and nine rebounds, and seniors Mieke Elkington and Chelsea Coward grabbed eight rebounds each.
The Lancers advance to a quarterfinals matchup Friday against No. 2 Winthrop.
“We had four seniors who didn’t want to go home early. As long as we keep playing hard, we’ll stick around for a while,” Longwood coach Bill Reinson said. “We still haven’t played our best game yet. Today, maybe we were a little bit excited about it being our first Big South tournament game. I think it showed, but we settled down.”
Senior forward Lakeitha Alston, a Carolina Forest High School graduate, led Charleston Southern (8-20) with 18 points and 13 rebounds while senior guard Shay Jones also added 18 points.
No. 6 Radford 56, No. 11 UNC Asheville 39 | The Radford women handled business in the second game of the day, building an 11-point halftime lead against struggling UNC Asheville and holding on from there for a convincing 56-39 victory.
Freshman guard Diani Mason scored a game-high 14 points off the bench for the No. 6-seeded Highlanders (15-13), while senior forward Sarah Tabb added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Radford advances to play No. 3 Presbyterian in the semifinals on Friday.
No. 11 UNC Asheville (2-28) did not win a conference game all season and shot just 26.2 percent from the field Wednesday in the season-ending loss.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.