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MBB Game Day Central: No. 2 South Seed Gardner-Webb
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Supplemental Game Notes
Liberty at Gardner-Webb – Feb. 9
- In a closely contested affair featuring nine ties and 14 lead changes, John Caleb Sanders paced the Flames with a career-high 27 points, including 25 in the second half. Unfortunately, Liberty was unable to make it seven straight against the Runnin' Bulldogs, as Garner-Webb hung on to win, 71-68.
- Sanders' scoring performance put him over the 800-point mark for his Liberty career at the time.
- Davon Marshall and Tomasz Gielo each finished with 11 points.
- Tavares Speaks chipped in seven points, ending a 13-game double digit scoring streak.
- Tashan Newsome led the Runnin' Bulldogs with 26 points, followed by Donta Harper, who added 16 points and a game-high nine boards.
Notes and Anecdotes
- Liberty is holding its opponents to 60.5 ppg, while averaging 69.5 ppg in the 2013 Big South Championship. The Flames are also averaging 38.5 rebounds per game, while holding opponents to 32.0 rpg.
- The Flames are shooting 42.9 percent (42-of-98) from the field in the tournament, this season, while holding opponents to 36.0 percent (41-of-114). Liberty is also 13-of-31 (41.9 percent), while its opponents are shooting 14.3 percent (5-of-35). At the foul line, the Flames are 42-of-49 (85.7 percent). Liberty's opponents are 34-of-51 (66.7 percent).
- Liberty is 4-1 in its last five games. During that span, the Flames are 4-0 when outrebounding its opponents. Liberty has also won the rebounding battle in its last three games.
- Liberty head coach Dale Layer is in his 20th season as a head coach and fourth year with the Flames. He owns a 331-260 career record and a 61-67 ledger at Liberty.
- Gardner-Webb head coach Chris Holtmann is in his third year at Gardner-Webb and is 44-52 during his coaching career.
- The matchup features the 2012-13 Big South Coach of the Year (Holtmann) and the 2010-11 Big South Coach of the Year (Layer).
- Gardner-Webb is on an eight-game win streak, which began with its 71-68 victory over Liberty on Feb. 9.
- Gardner-Webb is the alma mater of John Caleb Sanders' older brother, Thomas. The elder Sanders transferred to Gardner-Webb, playing for the Runnin' Bulldogs the final two seasons the team was a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. In his senior season with the Runnin' Bulldogs, he was named 2008 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and received an honorable mention on the 2008 All-America team.
- Antwan Burrus will not be in action Saturday due to a medical redshirt. However, his former high school teammate will be on the court. Prior to transitioning to Division I basketball, Burrus and Gardner-Webb sophomore forward Donta Harper played together for two years (2007-09) at South Central High School (Winterville, N.C.). During Burrus' final year (2008-09) at South Central, he averaged 22.2 points and 9.6 rebounds, leading the program to a 23-4 record. In his senior season two years ago, Harper led the school to a state runner-up finish, averaging 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Big South Championship Notes
- Liberty holds a 19-19 (.500) record all-time in the Big South Championship, with four finals appearances and two titles (1994, 2004).
- Liberty is seeking its fifth Big South Championship finals appearance and first since 2004.
- The Flames are 4-7 all-time in the Big South Championship semifinals.
- Saturday's matchup is the second meeting between the Flames and Runnin' Bulldogs in the tournament. No. 3 Liberty hosted No. 6 Gardner-Webb in the 2009 quarterfinals, earning an 88-77 decision (March 4, 2009). The Flames advanced to their most recent semifinals appearance two days later, falling to No. 2 VMI, 78-58, inside Radford's Dedmon Center.
- Liberty's victory over Coastal Carolina marked its first-ever tournament win under head coach Dale Layer.
A Look Back at Thursday's Win over High Point
- Looking for its first win against the Panthers this year after being swept in the regular season, the Flames led by 17 at halftime before the Panthers answered in the second half.
- With Liberty up by one with 4.5 seconds remaining, High Point, who trailed the entire game, had the final possession. However, the Panthers could not get the potential game-winning shot off before the buzzer sounded, leading to a 61-60 Flames victory.
- Liberty's win marks its 12th trip to the tournament's semifinals and its first since 2009. The Flames are now 12-9 all-time in the quarterfinals and 2-1 against the Panthers in postseason play.
- Tavares Speaks led the Flames with 17 points, followed by Davon Marshall (16) and John Caleb Sanders (12).
- Allan Chaney paced the Panthers with 17 points, while Dejuan McGaughy chipped in 13 markers.
- Liberty shot 44.4 percent (20-of-45) from the field, while holding High Point to 33.3 percent (19-of-57). Head coach Dale Layer's squad also won the rebounding battle, 37-30.