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Liberty Cruises Past Longwood, 74-47
The Liberty men's basketball team returned to the win column, Tuesday night, defeating first-year Big South member Longwood, 74-47, inside the Vines Center.
Although the contest began with a back-and-forth pace, Liberty used huge scoring bursts and stifling defense to earn the 27-point victory against the Commonwealth competitor.
The victory marks Liberty's (6-14, 2-4 Big South) fourth straight home win against the Lancers. Still searching for its first Big South victory, Longwood (3-17, 0-6 Big South) is now 17-9 all-time versus Liberty.
John Caleb Sanders led the Flames with 20 points, followed by Casey Roberts (12) and Tavares Speaks (10).
Karl Ziegler posted a career-high 12 points for Longwood, while Lancers leading scorer Tristan Carey chipped in 10 tallies.
The Flames finished with their third best shooting percentage of the season, hitting 28-of-53 shots (52.8 percent) from the field. Longwood's 47 points mark the fewest points allowed by Dale Layer's squad this season. Liberty's defense held the Lancers to 30.9 percent shooting (17-of-55). The Flames outscored the visitors in the paint (38-18), on turnovers (22-7) and off the bench (33-13).
The contest was a one-possession ball game for the initial 15 minutes of the opening half with seven ties and eight lead changes occurring during the span.
Tied at 19, Speaks ended the stalemate with a jumper at 5:22, kicking off a 14-4 Liberty run. Roberts created a five-point gap 22 ticks later with his second three-pointer of the contest. Along with five points from Roberts, the Flames also received a pair of Speaks baskets, a Chad Donley trey and a Joel Vander Pol jumper to close out the burst.
With the Flames holding a 10-point advantage, Longwood ended the half with four unanswered points off buckets by Michael Kessens and Ziegler. The pair of baskets resulted in a 33-27 halftime lead for Liberty.
The Flames pulled away again in the second half, beginning the period with a 9-2 run. Sanders capped the
burst with a three-pointer, putting the Flames ahead, 42-29, with 16:28 left in the contest.
The Lancers made it an eight-point game with a Tristan Carey jumper and a Lucas Woodhouse three-pointer with 15:11 left in the contest. Liberty proceeded to outscore Longwood, 24-9, over the next 11:51. Sommy Ogukwe ignited the Vines Center crowd with an authoritative fast break dunk at 6:07, giving Liberty a 22-point advantage. A few minutes later, a Donley three-pointer followed by a foul shot after the play put the Flames up by 25, with 3:20 remaining.
Liberty concluded the night with a pair of foul shots by Larry Taylor, an Andrew Smith dunk and a Donley layup to pick up the 74-47 victory.
Longwood returns home on Saturday, playing host to Presbyterian College at 2 p.m.
Liberty remains in the Vines Center on Saturday, playing host to Big South North Division leader Charleston Southern. The contest tips off at 8 p.m., following the Lady Flames' matchup with Longwood at 5 p.m.