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Second-Half Surge Leads Liberty Over Furman

December 1, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Liberty men's basketball team shook off a four-game skid, Monday night, defeating Furman, 66-52, inside the Vines Center. Guided by a Liberty career-high 14 points and 12 rebounds from David Andoh, the Flames used a 15-2 advantage in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Along with Andoh's double-double, Tomasz Gielo posted one of his own, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Andrew Smith added 12 points and seven boards, while Joe Retic dished out a career-high 10 assists.

The Flames defense held Furman's leading scorer Stephen Croone at bay with 13 points. Last season, Croone posted a career-high 40 points against Liberty in an 86-83 Furman victory in Greenville, S.C. (Dec. 20, 2013).

With the win, Liberty moves to 3-4 on the season, picking up its first-ever win over the Paladins, who lead the series, 3-1. Furman drops to 1-4 on the year.

Liberty shot 47.2 percent (25-of-43) from the field, marking the second straight game the Flames have shot over 45.0 percent. Head coach Dale Layer's squad held Furman to 33.3 percent shooting (19-of-57). The Flames have now held their opponents to under 35.0 percent in back-to-back games.

Furman posted 24 points from beyond the three-point arc, compared to 12 for the Flames. Liberty capitalized inside, outscoring the Paladins, 32-16.

Liberty started the contest with an 8-2 burst, receiving baskets from Smith and Andoh. Geoff Beans cut into the advantage with a three-pointer, but Smith threw down his second dunk of the game to make it a five-point game. The Paladins answered with a trio of treys, including two from Beans to take a 14-10 lead at 11:20.

The Flames knotted the contest with layups from Peter Moller and Theo Johnson. Furman then went on a 9-0 run, cemented by a Croone dunk. Andoh broke up the Paladins' hot streak with two free throws. Evan Maxwell added two layups underneath the basket to cut Furman's lead to three. However, a Daniel Fowler three-ball boosted the advantage back to six. Following a Croone free throw, back-to-back trifectas from A.C. Reid and Gielo sent Liberty into the locker room trailing by one at halftime, 27-26.

Liberty shot 45.8 percent (11-of-24) in the first half, compared to 40.0 percent (10-of-25) for the Paladins. The Flames outscored Furman in the paint, 14-6, but the visitors held an 18-9 advantage from downtown.

Beans led all scorers at the half with nine points. Smith and Andoh each had six points for Liberty.

In the second half, the Flames took the lead at the 17:37 mark thanks to a Gielo three-pointer. The contest then turned into a seesaw battle with a number of lead changes taking place over the ensuing 8:04.

With the contest tied at 43, Liberty proceeded to go on a 15-2 run during the next 7:01. The Flames spread the wealth, receiving baskets from six different players.

Following a big block from Theo Johnson, Smith ignited the crowd at the other end, flushing an alley-oop dunk off a Retic pass to up the Liberty lead to 11. Retic capped the run with a layup to make it 58-45 at 3:12.

Liberty led by as much as 14 in the contest. Smith closed out the game with one last dunk to clinch the 66-52 final.

The Flames return to the Vines Center on Saturday to host St. Francis Brooklyn. The contest tips off at 2 p.m., broadcasting live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, MASN HD, ESPN3 and the Big South Network.