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First Half Burst Pushes Winthrop by Liberty

January 22, 2015
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Liberty men's basketball team stepped onto the Vines Center court, Thursday night, looking to avoid starting 0-7 in Big South action for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Unfortunately for the Flames, the Eagles jumped out to a 16-2 lead early. Despite Liberty cutting the deficit to six in the second half, Winthrop held off the Flames to take the contest, 71-56.

Liberty (6-14, 0-7 Big South) shot 42.9 percent (21-of-49), while Winthrop 9-9 (4-3 Big South) shot 38.6 percent (22-of-57). Liberty went scoreless from  three-point land (0-for-10) for the first since going 0-for-8 in an 84-81 win against High Point (Feb. 1, 2005).

Andrew Smith and David Andoh led the Flames with 11 points, apiece, while Theo Johnson finished with 10 tallies.

Winthrop's Keon Moore finished with a game-high 22 points, followed by Keon Johnson with 16 tallies.

After Smith started the contest with a dunk, the Eagles proceeded to go on a 16-0 run to lead by 14 at the 11:34 mark. Winthrop held the Flames to 15 points in the opening period, carrying a 29-15 lead into the locker room at halftime. Liberty's first half point total narrowly missed the Vines Center record for fewest points in a half (14), which occurred versus College of Charleston on Jan. 26, 1991.

Liberty finished the half shooting 23.1 percent (6-of-26), compared to 41.4 percent (12-of-29) for the Eagles.

Keon Johnson paced all scorers at the half with eight points. Smith led the Flames with seven points and eight rebounds.

Liberty opened the second half with a 9-2 run, which included baskets by Smith, Moller, Andoh and Theo Johnson. Keon Moore doused the Flames' hot streak with a three-pointer at 16:52, making it 34-24.

Winthrop went back up by as much as 14 in the ensuing minutes. Liberty clawed back again, cutting to the Eagles' advantage to seven, 48-41, thanks to an A.C. Reid layup at 8:34.

With under seven minutes to play, the Flames received five unanswered points from Moller to cut the deficit to six, 54-48, at the 5:20 mark.

The Eagles eventually boosted the lead back to 15, ending the contest with a Keon Johnson free throw to close out the 71-56 victory.

Liberty returns to action on Saturday, squaring off with Radford. The contest tips off at 4:30, broadcasting live on ESPN3.