Flames downed twice in Big South play

Panthers, Blue Hose overpower Liberty

Setbacks — After a 1-4 start in conference play, the Flames hope to right the ship against the Longwood Lancers. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Midway through the season, the Liberty men’s basketball Head Coach Dale Layer and his revamped Flames team continue to struggle. With several additions from the offseason and the return of center Joel Vander Pol from a back surgery, the team is working to build momentum.

Over the past week, the Flames progressed Big South Conference play. Liberty (5-14, 1-4 Big South) first lost a nail-biter to the High Point Panthers (8-9, 3-2 Big South) in double-overtime 77-72, and were then defeated by the Presbyterian Blue Hose (4-15, 1-4 Big South) 68-60.

Game One

As the seconds dwindled in the second half, High Point guard Alex Wearly made a layup to tie the game at 58-58, forcing the first overtime.

With 30 seconds left, Liberty guard Davon Marshall drained two clutch free throws to tie the game 66-all and forced a second overtime. However, High Point pulled away and scored six of their 11 points in the period from the charity stripe to seal their third victory in the Big South.

Guard Tarvares Speaks scored a career-high 20 points and three steals. Guard John Caleb Sanders chipped in with 19 points and four assists.

The Panthers out-rebounded the Flames 50-39, primarily due to forward Allan Chaney’s 22 points and 12 rebounds as well as forward John Brown’s 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Game Two

Liberty managed to have three players scored double figures, but it was still unable to pick up its second victory in the Big South against the Blue Hose Saturday, Jan 19.

Presbyterian broke a four-game losing streak on the shoulders of its guard Khalid Mutakabbir’s 26 points. Mutakabbir scored 19 of his 26 points in the first half and helped the Blue Hose take a 31-25 lead heading into the halftime.

The Blue Hose led as much as 11 in the second half. However, with 3:41 left in the game, Marshall hit a three-pointer, which sparked an 8-2 Liberty run that reduced Presbyterian’s lead to 59-54.

After both teams took consecutive full timeouts, the Blue Hose widened the margin again and made five free throws down the stretch, clinching a win.

Marshall led the Flames with 14 points. Guard Casey Roberts added 13 points, including three three-pointers and two steals. Speaks also tallied 11 points in the loss.

Mutakabbir and guard Jordan Drowning combined to hit eight three-pointers in the Presbyterian triumph.

Liberty looks to end its two-game losing streak when it hosts the Longwood University Lancers (3-16, 0-5 Big South) Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.

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