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Late Surge Puts Eagles over Flames
The Liberty men's basketball team hosted Winthrop, Tuesday night, and played a closely contested game for the majority of the contest. However, the Eagles turned up the heat inside the Vines Center during the final five minutes, using a 15-3 run to pull away from the Flames, 73-62.
With its third straight defeat, Liberty falls to 9-15 on the year and 3-6 in the Big South. Winthrop improves to 11-10 overall and 5-4 in conference play. The Eagles now lead the all-time series, 34-15.
Antwan Burrus paced the Flames with 16 points, followed by John Caleb Sanders who had 14. Andrew Smith capped Liberty's trio of double-figure scorers with his second straight double-double, finishing with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Winthrop's Joab Jerome led all scorers with 19 points. Keon Johnson and Keon Moore concluded the night with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Eagles shot 50.0 percent (23-of-46) from the field, compared to 42.9 percent (24-of-56) from Liberty. The Flames outscored the Eagles, 40-30, in the paint, but Winthrop held advantages from behind the three-point arc (15-6) and at the foul line (22-12).
Liberty jumped out to an early lead with baskets by Smith and Sanders. An old fashion three-point play by Jerome gave the Eagles a brief lead. After another Smith bucket, Moore countered with a jumper to reclaim the advantage for Winthrop, 7-6, at 16:06.
Smith tied the contest with a layup at 10:41. Jerome answered with a basket on the opposite end, followed by another game tying bucket from Marshall. Once again, Jerome countered with a layup to put the Eagles back on top, 17-15, at 9:27.
Winthrop led by as much as five during the ensuing minutes of the period. Sanders pulled the Flames within one at the 2:53 mark, but Liberty was unable to climb over the hump as the Eagles carried a 30-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Smith led all scorers at the half with 10 points, followed by Jerome, who had nine tallies for the Eagles.
Winthrop shot 42.9 percent (12-of-28) from the field compared to 35.7 percent (10-of-28) for Liberty. While both teams posted 18 points in the paint, neither could find its range from three-point land. Liberty went 0-for-5 from downtown, while the Eagles were just 1-of-7 (14.3 percent).
In the second half, Burrus posted six quick points, trading baskets with Moore before eventually tying contest with a layup at 16:05. With the contest still tied a minute later, Winthrop proceeded to score five unanswered points off a Jerome three-pointer and an Andre Smith bucket. Tomasz Gielo prevented the Eagles from extending their lead further, knocking down a 15-foot jumper to make it 44-41 at 13:15.
Marshall knotted the contest once again with a three-pointer with 10:07 remaining. The Eagles later went back on top, but a Burrus bucket tied the contest, 50-50 at the 8:19 mark. Winthrop responded with five straight points including an Andre Smith three-pointer. A Gielo layup cut it to three 28 ticks later, 55-52, with 6:11 left on the clock. Winthrop soon started its late run, which included six tallies from Moore, ultimately leading to the 73-62 final.
Liberty heads to Asheville, N.C. on Saturday for a matchup with UNC Asheville. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m., with the contest airing live on WMYA-TV 40 (Asheville) and WSET 13 in the Lynchburg and Central Virginia area.