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Flames Cruise to Third Straight Win
The Liberty men's basketball team returned to the Vines Center, Saturday night, playing host to Greensboro College. Thanks in part to a season-high 46 points in the paint, the Flames took the advantage early and did not look back en route to an 84-47 decision.
With the victory, Liberty picks up its third straight win, improving to 4-5 on the season. Liberty's 37-point win differential is its largest since defeating Union College by the same margin on Dec. 28, 2012 (104-67).
Tomasz Gielo paced Liberty with 13 points, followed by Antwan Burrus and John Caleb Sanders, who each had 12. Joe Retic concluded the contest with a season-high nine tallies. Tracy Jester led the Pride with nine points.
The Flames shot 62.2 percent (28-of-45) from the field, marking its first game shooting over 60 percent since a 99-39 victory over Kentucky Christian on Dec. 12, 2009.
Liberty jumped out to an 8-0 lead, kick-started by a Gielo three-pointer. Following layups by Burrus and Sanders, Joel Vander Pol cemented the opening spurt with a free throw. A Jester jumper halted the Flames' momentum, making it 8-2 at 16:18.
The Flames began a 12-0 run with just over 14 minutes remaining in the half, scoring 10 of the 12 tallies in the paint. Andrew Smith highlighted the surge with a crowd-pleasing one-handed jam at 13:25. Retic recorded six points during the span, capping the spurt with a jumper to put Liberty ahead, 24-8, at 11:16.
Dale Layer's squad flexed its muscles from long range, as well, sinking four treys in the remaining minutes of the half. A Chad Donley trifecta gave the Flames a 32-point lead, its largest of the half, with 18 ticks remaining.
After a pair of Donley free throws, Jester prevented the Pride from becoming a line item in the Vines Center record books for fewest points in a half, as he swished a three-pointer at the buzzer. The last-second three-ball made it 46-17 in favor the Flames at halftime.
Sanders finished the first period perfect from the field and the free throw line, concluding the stanza with 11 points. Retic tallied six points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Liberty shot 64.3 percent (18-of-28) in the opening half, while holding the Pride to 23.3 percent (7-of-30). The Flames posted more than half of their points inside the paint, outscoring Greensboro College, 26-6, underneath.
In the second period, Liberty distanced itself further by capitalizing at the free throw line. Following two charity stripe tallies from Gielo, a Burrus basket extended Liberty's lead to 43 points, 71-28, with 8:22 remaining in the contest.
Retic gave Liberty its largest lead (45 points), icing his point total with two free throws at the 3:30 mark. The Pride outpointed the Flames, 12-4, down the stretch, ultimately setting up the 84-47 final.
Liberty will take a one-week break from on-court action before hitting the road to take on Austin Peay on Dec. 14. The contest is a rematch from last year's Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters matchup, which resulted in a 79-73 Flames overtime victory. Tipoff in Clarksville, Tenn., is slated for 8 p.m. (EST).