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High Point Holds off Flames, Wednesday
Hoping to halt a six-game skid, the Liberty men's basketball team stepped into High Point's Millis, Wednesday night, squaring off with the co-leader in the Big South North Division. Despite Liberty leading for much of the contest, High Point used a 15-0 run with under eight minutes to play to garner the 67-60 decision.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 9-19 on the year and 3-10 in conference action. High Point improves to 13-13 overall and 9-4 in Big South play, maintaining its place in the standings.
Antwan Burrus paced the Flames offense with 15 points, followed by Davon Marshall and Tomasz Gielo, who had 11 and 10 apiece.
John Brown, who entered the contest second in scoring in the Big South with 20.0 ppg, finished with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers. Devante Wallace and Anthony Lindauer chipped in 12 and 11 points, each.
The Panthers shot 45.1 percent (23-of-51), while the Flames concluded the night with a 43.6 percent shooting (24-of-55). Liberty outscored High Point in the paint, 36-22, and committed just eight turnovers. The Panthers won the rebounding battle, 34-29.
High Point broke an early stalemate with back-to-back buckets from Perez-Laham and Brown to take a 10-6 lead at 14:59. The Panthers later increased their advantage to five thanks to a three-pointer by Lindauer at 9:51, making it 18-13.
Liberty proceeded to go on an 8-0 run, receiving buckets from Joe Retic, Burrus and Sanders. Retic capped the burst with a jumper at 6:26, giving the Flames a 21-18 advantage.
High Point reclaimed the lead off a Brown layup with 2:54 remaining in the period. Smith put the Flames back on top 16 seconds later with a layup of his own. With Liberty still up by one, Gielo knocked down a three-pointer in the final nine seconds left in the period, allowing the Flames to carry a 30-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Flames concluded the opening period shooting 43.8 percent (14-of-32), compared to 37.0 percent (10-of-27) for the Panthers. Liberty did most of its damage in the paint, outscoring High Point inside, 22-8. Dale Layer's squad committed just two turnovers during the period, while converting seven High Point miscues into eight points.
A trio of Flames paced Liberty's offense with six points apiece – Burrus, Retic and Sanders. Perez-Laham and Lindauer also led the Panthers with six tallies each.
Liberty led by as much as seven in the early minutes of the second half. The Panthers clawed back, cutting its deficit to two courtesy of a Wallace layup at 13:54. The Flames prevented the Panthers from knotting the contest 45 seconds later, as Retic found Smith open for an authoritative alley-oop to make it 40-36.
Down by five, the Panthers began their 15-0 run at the 7:57 mark. High Point took the lead with a Lorenzo Cugini jumper at 6:35. After a Derrell Edwards jump shot and a Lindauder three-ball, Brown added two buckets to give the Panthers a 10-point lead. Marshall halted the Flames drought with a traditional three-point play to cut High Point's lead to seven. After another High Point basket, Marshall nailed a trey to cut it six, 61-55, with 2:06 on the clock.
The Flames were forced to foul during the closing minutes. Despite a late three-pointer by Burrus, the Panthers hung on for the 67-60 final.
Liberty returns to action, Saturday, squaring off against Campbell. The Flames took the first meeting between the two squads earlier this season, edging the Camels, 71-68. Tipoff inside Gore Arena is slated for 4 p.m., with the contest airing exclusively on ESPN3.