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Flames Fall To Winthrop In Game That Goes Down To The Wire
The Winthrop Eagles (20-4, 10-0 BSC) snapped the Liberty Flames (11-13, 5-5 BSC) four-game win streak in a nail biter until the final buzzer on Tuesday night at the Winthrop Coliseum, 80-76.
The Flames started the game on a 9-5 run when Larry Blair scored a bucket at the 17:35 mark. The Eagles started to get their offense going as Winthrop scored 10 out of the next 12 points, capped by a Chris Gaynor lay-up at the 14:44 mark to take a 15-11 lead.
However, the four-point advantage would be the Eagles' largest in the first half as the Flames went on a 27-10 run, capped by a Blair steal and Dwight Brewington wide open dunk on transition. The bucket gave Liberty its largest lead of the half, 38-25, with 4:30 left in the opening period.
The Eagles cut the Flames lead down to seven points as they finished the half on a 11-5 run allowing Liberty took a 43-36 lead into halftime.
The Flames shot a very strong 68.0 percent from the floor on 17-of-25 shooting in the first half behind 14 points from Blair. Anthony Smith added nine points and Brewington chipped in eight points in the opening 20 minutes.
Liberty limited Winthrop to 41.9 percent from the floor on 13-of-31 shooting in the first half, but the Eagles kept the game close with 12 second-chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds.
The Eagles started the second half on an 11-2 run as Michael Jenkins was fouled on a three-point attempt by Blair, making 2-of-3 from the charity stripe. The free throws cut Liberty's lead to 47-45 with 14:28 left in the game.
Liberty extended its lead back to seven, 52-45, courtesy of five-straight points that ended with two free throws by Blair with 11:31 left in the game.
The Eagles came roaring back, scoring 10-unanswered to take a 55-52 lead on a dunk by Craig Bradshaw with 8:44 remaining in the game.
The Flames regained the lead after two more Blair free throws, making it a 56-55 lead with 7:42 remaining. But, that would be the final time Liberty would lead the game as the Eagles went on an 11-1 run to go up 67-58 on a rebound and put back by Antwon Harris off a missed free throw by Taj McCullough.
The Flames got within two points at 78-76 thanks to a 20-9 run that was finished off by a Blair three-point shot with 18 seconds remaining. But Gaynor sank a pair from the charity stripe to push Winthrop's lead to a four-point margin, 80-76. Over the waning 16 seconds, Liberty missed a trio of three-point attempts, allowing Winthrop to secure the victory.
The Flames' hot shooting in the opening 20 minutes cooled off in the second half as Liberty shot just 29 percent (9-of-31) in the final period. Blair led the way for the Flames during the game with 23 points, three assists and two steals. Anthony Smith scored 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting and Brewington added 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the loss.
Bradshaw led the Eagles with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Gaynor and Jenkins each put in 19 points apiece. Torrell Martin, making his first start since injuring his right foot in the conference opener, scored eight points on 3-of-7 shooting.
The Flames return home on Saturday to take on Charleston Southern. Tip is set for 1 p.m. and will be game one of a doubleheader with the women's basketball team as the Lady Flames square off against High Point in the second game.