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Strong Second Half Puts Tribe over Flames, Tuesday
Fresh off a win at home on Friday, the Liberty men‘s basketball team looked to build on the victory, Tuesday night, at Kaplan Arena. Unfortunately for the Flames, the William & Mary Tribe had other plans, pulling away in the second half to take an 84-72 decision.
Although the Flames controlled the majority of the first half, a 23-point effort from Marcus Thornton allowed the Tribe to shift the momentum and create distance in the second stanza.
The defeat drops Liberty to 1-1 on the season. The Tribe's (1-1) victory knots the all-time series at 4-4, with William & Mary claiming the last three contests.
Antwan Burrus paced the Flames offense with 18 points, falling just two shy of tying his career high. The forward also had a team-leading six rebounds to accompany his scoring output. Davon Marshall and John Caleb Sanders rounded out the Flames double-figure scorers with 12 points, apiece. Sanders also dished out eight assists.
Along with Thornton's performance, the Tribe also received solid offense from Omar Prewitt (18 points), Tim Rusthoven (16) and Terry Tarpey (13).
The Tribe shot 60.4 percent in the contest, hitting 32-of-53 shots. Liberty finished the night on 46.7 percent shooting (28-of-60), including 40.0 percent (8-of-20) from three-point land.
Liberty's front court produced the bulk of the Flames' scoring in the opening minutes. Following buckets by Burrus, JR Coronado and Gielo, Sanders knocked down Liberty's first three-pointer of the game to create a three-point cushion. Rusthoven countered with a layup to cut it to one, but the Flames answered with a 6-0 run, featuring a Burrus two-handed jam and an Andrew Smith layup. After another Tribe basket, Sanders swished his second trey at 10:57, making it 20-12 in favor of the Flames.
William & Mary chipped away at the deficit, but the Flames held the Tribe at bay thanks to three-point baskets from Marshall and Casey Roberts. Prewitt retaliated with a trey of his own to pull the Tribe within four tallies, but a Burrus layup in the paint gave Liberty a six-point advantage, 30-24, with 6:32 remaining in the period.
After the teams traded baskets, the Tribe concluded the half with eight unanswered points, beginning with a Julian Boatner trey. Thornton followed with a three-pointer and a layup, putting the home team ahead, 34-32, at halftime.
With his five-point burst, Thornton led all scorers at halftime with nine points, while John Caleb Sanders paced the Flames with eight tallies.
The Tribe finished the first half with 53.6 percent shooting (15-of-28) from the field, while holding the Flames to 41.4 percent (12-of-29).
Liberty regained the lead 1:33 into the second half thanks to a Gielo layup. Marshall widened the gap to five with a trey, but the Tribe knotted it again, 41-41, off another Thornton three-pointer at 15:13.
The Flames jumped out to a five-point edge, at 13:41, courtesy of a Marshall's third trifecta. William & Mary went back on top 3:25 later, taking a 51-50 lead with a Sean Sheldon layup. The contest remained within one possession during the ensuing four-plus minutes, until a Tarpey traditional three-point put the Tribe ahead, 62-57, with 6:06 remaining.
Thornton continued to find his hot spot, sinking his third three-pointer of the night at the 4:02 mark to stretch William & Mary's advantage to 12. Liberty managed to cut the deficit in half just over three minutes later, as Wesley Alcegaire nailed a jumper to make it a six-point game with 59 ticks left. However, the Flames were forced to foul down the stretch, allowing the Tribe to leave the court with the 84-72 win.
Liberty returns to the Vines Center, Saturday, playing host to Western Carolina. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.