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Second-Half Run Helps Terriers Move Past Flames
Looking to start 4-0 inside the Vines Center, the Liberty men's basketball team hosted St. Francis Brooklyn, Saturday afternoon. Down by as much 12 points in the second half, the Flames made it a four-point game in the closing minutes. Guided by 16-point efforts from Jalen Cannon and Brent Jones, the Terriers held off the Flames for the 65-54 victory.
With the defeat, Liberty drops to 3-5 on the season, while St. Francis Brooklyn moves to 2-5. The Terriers are now 3-0 in the all-time series.
Theo Johnson received his first start for the Flames, finishing with a season-high 11 points. Andrew Smith chipped in 10 points and six boards, while Peter Moller also had a season-best 10 tallies. A.C. Reid had eight points off the bench. James Johnson finished with seven points and a season-high nine rebounds.
The Flames were without leading scorer Tomasz Gielo (12.3 ppg), who was sidelined due to a stress reaction in his foot.
Liberty shot 38.3 percent (18-of-47) from the field, compared to 35.5 percent (22-of-62) for the Terriers. St. Francis Brooklyn outrebounded the Flames, 43-34, including 20-10 on the offensive glass. Thanks in part to their rebounding efforts, the Terriers outscored Liberty on second chance points, 20-5. The visitors also capitalized on turnovers, outpointing the Flames off miscues, 22-11.
Liberty jumped out to a four-point lead early, but the Terriers countered with a three-pointer and a layup at 17:07. The game remained a one possession affair throughout the period. Tied at 14 with 10:21 left in the stanza, the duo of James and Theo Johnson began to go to work, accounting for Liberty's final nine points of the half.
A layup by Theo Johnson gave the Flames a four-point cushion with 6:04 remaining in the first period. St. Francis Brooklyn regained control with a Jones layup at 3:49. Following a James Johnson free throw, Cannon closed out the period with a layup, giving the Terriers a 26-23 lead at halftime.
Cannon led all players at the half with 11 points and seven rebounds. James and Theo Johnson each had seven tallies for the Flames. James Johnson also had six boards to accompany his point total.
Neither team shot above 35.0 percent in the first half, with Liberty finishing with 33.3 (8-of-24) and the Terriers shooting 30.3 (10-of-33). Most of the points came from the starting five of each team, as St. Francis had three bench points compared to zero for the Flames. The Terriers also capitalized on second chance points, outscoring Liberty, 12-0.
In the second half, St. Francis began distancing itself from the Flames, taking a 12-point lead, 42-30, thanks to a Jones layup at 11:53.
Liberty chipped away at the deficit, going on an 8-0 run. Reid knocked down two treys during the burst, including one at 9:53 to make it a four-point game, 42-38.
St. Francis went back up by nine with less than five minutes left. The Flames climbed within four with 1:35 remaining courtesy of a Moller layup. With Liberty forced to foul down the stretch, the Terriers pulled away again en route to the 65-54 final.
Liberty returns to the Vines Center next Saturday, playing host to Bluefield College. Game time is slated for 2 p.m., with the contest streaming live on the Big South Network.