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Balanced Attack Leads Flames Past Pirates
The Liberty men's basketball team snapped a five-game skid, Friday afternoon, defeating Commonwealth competitor Hampton, inside the American Bank Center, 70-53.
With its win in the Corpus Christi Challenge, Liberty moves to 2-5 on the season and leads the all-time series versus the Pirates, 3-2. The Flames await the winner of Sam Houston State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The contest is slated for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (EST).
Antwan Burrus led the Flames with a double-double, posting 17 points while tying a career high in rebounds with 13. The senior forward is now 15th all-time on Liberty's career rebounding list with 490 boards. John Caleb Sanders finished the afternoon with a season-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point land. Du'Vaughn Maxwell led Hampton with 17 points.
Liberty shot 49.2 percent (29-of-59) from the field, while holding Hampton to 33.3 percent (17-of-51), its second-lowest shooting performance of the season. The Flames concluded the contest with a solid balance underneath the basket and along the perimeter. Dale Layer's squad outpointed the Pirates in the paint, 36-20.
Liberty also went 7-of-14 from three-point range, holding Hampton to 2-of-12 from beyond the three-point arc.
The Pirates led for much of the opening six minutes, until a Joel Vander Pol basket gave the Flames a 10-9 lead at the 13:59 mark. Liberty began to create distance in the latter portion of the half with back-to-back buckets from Burrus and Tomasz Gielo. After two Hampton free throws, Burrus followed up with a four unanswered points, including a rim-rattling dunk at 6:29. The senior's two-handed jam put the Flames ahead, 25-16.
Hampton climbed back within five points in the closing minutes of the period, but a Burrus layup with 25 ticks left allowed Liberty to take a 32-25 halftime lead into the locker room.
Burrus closed out the first stanza with a near double-double (13 points and nine rebounds), helping Liberty outscore the Pirates in the paint, 20-8. Maxwell paced Hampton with eight tallies.
Liberty shot 41.2 percent (14-of-34) in the first half, while holding the Pirates to 34.6 percent (9-of-26).
The Flames opened the second period with a hot hand, going on an 11-0 run over a 3:30 span. Davon Marshall kick-started the burst with a three-pointer. After a JR Coronado layup and two Sanders baskets, Marshall cemented the spurt with a layup to give Liberty an 18-point advantage. Maxwell halted the Flames' run with an authoritative dunk at 15:03, making it 43-27 in favor of Liberty.
The Pirates chipped away at the deficit, making it an 11-point game with 9:30 left off a Lawrence Cooks layup. Marshall countered with another three-pointer 26 ticks later, upping the advantage to 54-40.
Liberty continued to pile on the treys down the stretch. Following Sanders' third three-pointer of the contest, Casey Roberts tacked on one of his own to give Liberty its largest lead of the contest, 21 points (67-46), with 3:09 remaining. Brian Darden answered with a trifecta at the other end 10 seconds later, but Roberts nullified the bucket with his second downtown dagger with 1:31 left. Roberts' three-point basket capped the Flames' scoring, ultimately setting up the 70-53 final.