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Winthrop Defeats Liberty in BSC First Round
Entering the tournament as the No. 5 seed in the North Division, the Liberty men's basketball team got off to a hot start inside The HTC Center against No. 4 South seed Winthrop at the 2014 Big South Championship, Wednesday. Unfortunately for the Flames, the Eagles were able to climb back to take the lead at halftime en route to a 77-65 Winthrop victory.
Liberty ends its season with an 11-21 record. Winthrop (18-12) advances to the quarterfinals and will face No. 1 overall seed High Point on Friday at noon.
Andrew Smith tied a career high with 17 points, followed by Joe Retic, who had 15 points.
Antwan Burrus chipped in 11 points, closing out his career 18th on Liberty's all-time scoring list with 1,170 points. The redshirt senior also had five rebounds, finishing at No. 10 on the program's rebounding list with 616 career boards.
John Caleb Sanders finished with eight tallies. The Sugar Land, Texas native ends his Liberty career at No. 14 on the program' scoring list with 1,384 points. The game was his program-record 132nd career game played, as Sanders appeared in every contest during his four years in a Flames uniform.
Davon Marshall tallied six points, finishing with 803 for his Liberty career and surpassing former Flames guard Tavares Speaks (801) for 30th on the program's listing.
Keon Johnson paced Winthrop with 15 tallies, followed by Joab Jerome, Keon Moore and Andre Smith, who all added 14 points apiece.
Liberty shot 41.4 percent (24-of-58) for the contest, compared to 46.2 percent (24-of-52) for the Eagles. Liberty outscored Winthrop in the paint, 30-20, but the Eagles held the advantage beyond the perimeter, 24-15. Both teams performed well at the charity stripe. Liberty made 12-of-13 (92.3 percent), while Winthrop shot a perfect 21-of-21 to set a tournament single-game record.
With Liberty ahead 6-5 early, Burrus kick-started an 11-0 Flames run with a layup at 16:57. After two Retic free throws, Marshall, the tournament record holder for three-pointers, knocked down a trey to increase the lead to eight. Andrew Smith added back-to-back baskets in the paint, giving Liberty a 17-5 advantage at 14:15.
Winthrop countered, outscoring the Flames 19-3 over the next 8:27. A pair of Brandon Vega layups gave the Eagles a three-point lead at 5:48. Smith answered on the other end 17 ticks later with a traditional three-point play to knot the contest at 24.
Jerome knocked a three-pointer just under the five-minute mark to put the Eagles ahead by three. Winthrop held off the Flames for the rest of the half, carrying a 35-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Despite the fast start for the Flames, Liberty concluded the first half shooting 38.5 percent (10-of-26) compared to 53.6 percent (15-of-28) for the slow-starting Eagles. Although Liberty forced Winthrop to commit more first-half turnovers (7-6), Winthrop outscored the Flames in points off turnovers, 10-5.
Andrew Smith led the all scorers at halftime with 11 points. Keon Moore paced the Eagles with 10 points.
Winthrop began the half with an Andre Smith three-pointer to increase its lead to nine. Liberty responded with two Retic free throws and an old-fashioned three-point play by Burrus to cut the lead to four, 38-34, at 18:41.
With Winthrop up by eight, Liberty posted seven unanswered points to cut the deficit to one. After buckets by Andrew Smith and Burrus, Marshall knocked down another three-pointer. Johnson swished a trey on the other end to regain a four-point lead. Burrus and Andrew Smith countered with layups to knot the contest at 11:05, 47-47.
Just under the eight minute mark, a Retic layup tied the game again at 51. The Eagles then went on an 8-0 spurt, which included back-to-back Johnson three-pointers. Two Winthrop free throws then capped the burst to put the Eagles ahead, 59-51, at 6:03.
Liberty would pull within six on the next possession, but could not climb any closer as Winthrop pulled away for the 77-65 final.