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Murray Helps Lead Blue Hose Past Liberty, Saturday
The Liberty men's basketball team looked to get back into the win column, Saturday night, playing host to Presbyterian. Unfortunately for the Flames, the Blue Hose had other plans. Guided by a 16-point, 11 rebound performance from freshman DeSean Murray, Presbyterian took the lead early in the first half and did not look back, earning a 62-58 victory inside the Vines Center.
The Blue Hose (5-10, 1-1 Big South) led by as much as 14 in the contest, with Liberty (6-9, 0-2 Big South) making it a one-point game with 1:44 remaining in the contest.
Murray's performance comes after missing the previous 12 games due to injury. Presbyterian leading scorer on the season, Jordan Downing followed up the freshman's effort with 14 tallies.
Joe Retic paced the Flames with 14 points, followed by Ethan Layer (12) and Theo Johnson (10). Johnson also had seven boards to go along with his point total. Retic also dished out seven assists. Layer's 12 points came after hitting 4-of-5 shots from three-point land.
Presbyterian shot 50.0 percent (25-of-50) in the contest, while holding the Flames to 38.2 percent (21-of-55). The Blue Hose outpointed Liberty in the paint, 40-26. The Flames edged Presbyterian from long range, 15-6, and in rebounds, 38-33.
The Blue Hose jumped out to a six-point lead (8-2) at the 15:44 mark thanks to a Murray tip-in. Liberty managed to climb within one point with 9:09 to play in the period courtesy of a Retic layup. However, the Blue Hose proceeded to go on an 8-1 run capped by a Murray layup to take a 20-12 lead at 5:50.
Liberty began receiving a spark from downtown over the next 1:14. Ryan Kemrite knocked down a trey to pull within five. After two Murray free throws, Layer swished another three-pointer to cut the deficit to four, 22-18, with 4:36 left in the half.
With Liberty still down by four, Downing drained a three-pointer with 1:18 left in the half to put the Blue Hose up by seven. Presbyterian eventually carried a 31-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Blue Hose shot 44.0 percent (11-of-25) in the first half, compared to 33.3 percent (8-of-24) for the Flames.
Murray paced the Blue Hose offense with 12 points, followed by Downing, who had nine. Retic led the Flames with seven tallies.
Presbyterian stretched its lead in the second half, going on a 9-2 run. Markus Terry cemented the surge with a layup at 16:21, making it 40-26.
The Flames tried to chip away at the cushion throughout the half. Andrew Smith ignited the fans inside the Vines Center at the 7:35 mark, catching a Retic pass near the backboard and slamming it home for a one-handed jam. Smith's highlight reel dunk put the Flames within 10, 50-40.
Presbyterian led by nine with 4:17 left, but an 8-0 run with baskets by Retic and Theo Johnson made it a one-point game at the 1:44 mark. However, Presbyterian made three straight baskets to distance itself from the Flames. Layer nailed a three-pointer with 18 ticks remaining, but the bucket wasn't enough, en route to the 62-58 decision.
Liberty returns to action on Thursday, squaring off with UNC Asheville. The Bulldogs boast the conference's leading scorer in Andrew Rowsey. Tipoff inside Asheville's Kimmel Arena is slated for 7 p.m.