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Late Burst Puts Governors over Flames
Looking for its fourth straight win, the Liberty men's basketball team stepped inside the Winfield Dunn Center for a meeting with the Austin Peay Governors, Saturday night. Despite a career-high 27-point performance from redshirt senior Antwan Burrus, the Flames were unable to withstand late scoring bursts from the Governors in the 77-71 defeat.
Liberty falls to 4-6 on the year, while Austin Peay improves to 5-5, tying the head-to-head series at 1-1.
The Governors closed out the night with a quartet of double-digit point scorers – Travis Betran (23), Chris Horton (21), Will Triggs (12) and Ed Dyson (10). Horton also had 11 rebounds to go along with is scoring effort.
Along with Burrus, John Caleb Sanders finished with a season-high 16 points, followed by Davon Marshall, who had 11.
With his point total, Burrus now has 902 points for his Liberty career, needing 98 more to join teammate John Caleb Sanders as the 24th member of the program's 1,000-point club.
Austin Peay shot 52.1 percent (25-of-48) compared to 45.2 percent (28-of-62) for the Flames. Although Liberty committed more turnovers on the night (15-12), the Flames managed to outscore the Governors off miscues, 13-11. Free throws played a factor, as the Governors made more trips to the line. Austin Peay hit 21-of-33 (63.6 percent) shots from the charity stripe, while Flames knocked down 10-of-13 (76.9 percent).
The Flames claimed the lead in the early going, making seven of their first nine shots. Liberty's three-point shooting was on display during the span, with treys from Sanders and Marshall. Tomasz Gielo gave the Flames a four-point lead, 16-12, at the 14:09 mark. Gielo missed the free throw for the traditional three-point play, snapping his streak of 15 consecutive charity stripe tallies dating back to last season.
Austin proceeded to go on a 9-0 run, thanks in part to back-to-back trifectas from Betran. Liberty answered with seven unanswered points, capped by a Sanders basket to knot the contest, 23-23, at 7:41.
Liberty did not regain the lead until eight ticks left, as JR Coronado capitalized on a tip-in to put the Flames ahead by one. Chris Freeman quickly countered with a fast break two-handed jam. With five seconds on the clock, Sanders drove the ball coast-to-coast and was fouled on the play. After an altercation led to double technical fouls assessed to Coronado and Freeman, respectively, Sanders made two free throws with less than a second left in the half. Sanders pair of free throws gave the Flames a 36-35 edge at halftime.
Despite starting 7-of-9 from the field, Liberty went 7-of-20 the rest of the way, finishing the half with 48.3 percent shooting (14-of-29). The Governors concluded the period shooting 50.0 percent (15-of-30).
Burrus and Sanders paced the Flames in the opening stanza with 12 points, apiece. Horton led all scorers with 13 points, while Betran also had 12 tallies.
The Flames remained in control of the lead for the opening 4:41 of the second period. Following a Damarius Smith layup, Burrus responded with a layup of his own to put Liberty back on top. The Governors then went on a 10-0 run, taking advantage of several Liberty turnovers. Burrus then put the Flames on his back, scoring eight of Liberty's 10 points during a 10-3 burst. The senior's scoring spree included an emphatic two-handed slam at 8:38 to set a new career-high in points. A Vander Pol dunk with 7:06 remaining put the Flames within two, 57-55.
With Liberty still trailing by two at the 5:19 mark, the Governors posted eight straight tallies to take a 10-point lead with 3:30 left. The Flames cut the gap in the closing minutes, but could not climb any closer en route to the Governors' 77-71 victory.
Liberty returns to the Vines Center, Tuesday night, playing host to Howard. The Flames look to avenge last season's 60-53 loss to the Bison in Burr Gymnasium (Dec. 15, 2012). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. with the contest airing live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, ESPN3 and MASN.