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Dominance in the Paint Leads to Flames Win
The Liberty men's basketball team displayed its ability to create in the paint, Saturday night, defeating Southeastern, 92-53 inside the Vines Center. Led by a 15-point performance from Antwan Burrus, the Flames outscored the Fire inside, 58-20.
With the win, Liberty moves to 6-7 on the year. Other players finishing in double figures included Joe Retic (12), John Caleb Sanders (11) and Tomasz Gielo (11). Southeastern's (10-2) leading scorer Dwayne Johnson finished with 14 points.
Along with its season-high point total, the Flames outrebounded their opponent for the eighth straight game, grabbing 43 boards. The rebounding effort is Liberty's second-highest mark this season.
Liberty shot 54.3 percent (38-of-70) from the field, including a season-high 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from three-point land. The Flames' defense held Southeastern to 33.3 percent shooting (18-of-54).
Turnovers were not a factor for the Flames, committing a season-low seven miscues, marking the team's first single-digit turnover game, this season. On the opposite end, Liberty forced Southeastern to commit 19 turnovers, while scoring 27 points off the Fire's errors.
Southeastern jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, but the Flames answered with a 7-0 burst, kick-started by a Burrus jumper. Davon Marshall capped the run with a three-pointer at 16:55 to put Liberty up, 7-6.
The Fire regained the lead 31 ticks later and remained on top for the majority of the ensuing 4:14. Casey Roberts reclaimed the advantage for the Flames at the 12:10 mark, knocking down a three-pointer 24 seconds after checking into the contest to make it 19-18.
Liberty continued to distance itself from the visitors in the remaining minutes of the half, capitalizing inside the paint with high-percentage shots. Retic closed the period out with a driving layup to give the Flames a 45-28 lead at halftime.
Burrus led all scorers at the half with 12 tallies, while Amir Royal paced the Fire with seven points.
Liberty shot 52.8 percent (19-of-36) in the opening stanza, while holding Southeastern to 37.5 percent (9-of-24). The Flames' advantage in the paint was evident, as they outscored the Fire, 34-8, inside. Liberty also committed just two turnovers, while converting Southeastern's 12 miscues into 15 points.
Dale Layer's squad continued to flex its muscles inside, posting its first six points of the second half from inside the paint. Sanders flipped the script at 17:13, knocking down a three-point to put the Flames ahead, 54-32.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Liberty took a 32-point lead thanks to a Marshall trey. After a Southeastern basket, Tomasz Gielo followed up with a three-pointer of his own to make it 76-43 with 8:30 left on the clock.
Retic gave Liberty its largest lead of the contest (41 points) at the 1:58 mark, capping his scoring with a three-pointer to ultimately set up the 92-53 final.
Liberty rings in the new year on the road Wednesday, squaring off with Delaware. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m.