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Junior Duo Leads Liberty Over Campbell
Leading by as much as 16 in the first period, Tuesday night, the Liberty men's basketball team saw its lead completely erased by the Campbell Camels in the second half. With the visitors up by one, the Flames reclaimed the advantage with just over five minutes remaining to earn a 71-68 victory in the Vines Center.
A pair of 6-9 juniors paced the Flames offense, with Tomasz Gielo leading Liberty with 17 points, followed by a career-high 15 points for Andrew Smith. Seniors Davon Marshall and John Caleb Sanders rounded out the Flames double-figure scorers, finishing with 12 and 10 tallies, apiece. Fresh off a career-high 20-point game at VMI, JR Coronado grabbed 12 boards for the Flames to go along with five points.
Andrew Ryan concluded the night with a game and season-high 22 points for Campbell, while Reco McCarter and Leek Leek chipped in 14 tallies.
With its second straight conference victory, Liberty moves to 8-10 and 2-1 in Big South play, while the Camels end the night with an identical record. The Flames lead the series against the Camels, 12-10, and improve to 8-1 all-time versus Campbell at home. Liberty has not fallen to the Camels on its home turf since hosting Campbell at Jefferson Forest High School on Jan. 5, 1976, nearly 14 years before the completion of the Vines Center.
Liberty shot 46.3 percent (25-of-54) on the night compared to 41.0 percent (25-of-61) for Campbell. The Camels swished 13 three-pointers in the contest, the most by a Flames' opponent, this season. Liberty held the advantage in the paint (36-20), off second chance points (18-6) and at the foul line (17-5).
The Camels struck first with a three-pointer by Ryan, but Liberty kept things close thanks in part to six points by Smith in the opening 5:32. The junior's layup at 15:28 gave the Flames a 10-8 edge.
The two squads continued to trade the lead until the 9:47 mark, when a Sanders three-pointer put the Flames ahead by two. Burrus capped a 10-0 Liberty run, hitting a layup with 5:54 remaining to create a 29-20 cushion.
Liberty took its largest lead with 1:36 left in the period thanks to a Joel Vander Pol tip-in. Campbell finished the half like it started, as Ryan knocked down a three-pointer 16 seconds later, making it 43-30 in favor of the Flames at halftime.
The tandem of Smith and Gielo paced the Liberty offense with 11 points apiece in the opening stanza. Ryan also closed out the period with 11 tallies for the Camels. The Liberty defense held McCarter, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, scoreless in the half.
Liberty shot 50.0 percent (15-of-30) from the field, while holding Campbell to 38.7 percent (12-of-31). The Camels outscored the Flames from behind the three-point arc, 18-9. However, Liberty capitalized from the foul line, going 10-of-10 at the charity stripe, while the Camels had zero free throw attempts in the period. Liberty also held the advantage in the paint, outscoring the Camels, 20-8.
Campbell opened the second half with a 10-0 run to make it a three-point game at 16:04. The Camels then took the lead with 10:32 remaining, as McCarter connected on a layup to make it 52-51.
With Campbell still ahead by one at 5:38, Sanders reclaimed the lead for the Flames with a layup 24 ticks later. Marshall extended the Flames advantage, knocking a clutch three-pointer with 2:19 remaining, allowing Liberty to hang on for the 71-68 final.
Liberty continues conference play on Saturday, as it hosts High Point, Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., with the contest airing live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, MASN, ESPN3 and the Big South Network.