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Asheville Uses Second-Half Surge to Defeat Flames
The Liberty men's basketball team stepped into UNC Asheville's Kimmel Arena looking for its first win in conference play, Thursday night. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs had other plans as David Robertson posted a game-high 20 points to lead Asheville over Liberty, 71-54.
The Flames fall to 6-10 on the season and 0-3 in Big South action, while Asheville improves to 7-7 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
Along with Robertson, Bulldogs' leading scorer Andrew Rowsey had 13 points, while Chudier Pal chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Asheville shot 41.0 percent (25-of-61) from the field, while holding the Flames to 35.4 percent (17-of-48). The Bulldogs capitalized on second chance points, 21-9, as well as points off turnovers, 17-4. Fourteen of Liberty's 17 miscues occurred in the first half.
Liberty led in the early moments, 6-4, but an Asheville 8-0 run capped by a Rowsey three-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 12-6 advantage at 11:21.
The Flames climbed back into the contest during the ensuing minutes with help from a pair of three-pointers from Peter Moller. Liberty trimmed the lead to one at the 5:43 mark, but a 10-0 Asheville burst put the home team ahead, 29-18, with 2:09 left in the half.
The Flames shot 40.0 percent (8-of-20) from the field, compared to 35.5 percent (11-of-31) for Asheville. The Bulldogs committed six turnovers during the half, while converting Liberty's 14 miscues into 15 points. Asheville also outscored the Flames in the paint, 20-10.
Rowsey led all scorers in the first half with nine points. James Johnson and Moller each had six tallies for the Flames.
Asheville took a 10-point lead early in the second period, but a Kemrite three-pointer and an Andoh jumper cut the deficit back to five, 34-29.
With the Bulldogs up by six, Liberty made it a one-point game thanks to five unanswered points by Theo Johnson. After a traditional three-point play, the junior forward picked the pocket of Rowsey and finished with a two-handed fast break dunk on the other end, making it 36-35 at 14:27.
Asheville began to create more space during the next 3:07, going on a 10-2 run during the span. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 14 at the eight-minute mark, after a trio of free throws from Robertson made it 57-43 in favor of Asheville.
Asheville led by as much as 17 in the contest, preventing the Flames from chipping away at the lead in the final minutes en route to the 71-54 final.
Liberty returns to action on Saturday to host defending Big South champion Coastal Carolina. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. with the contest broadcasting live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, MASN HD, ESPN3 and the Big South Network.