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Flames Pick Up Second-Straight Home Victory With Dominating Effort Over Hornets
The Flames placed four players in double figures, including a pair of 18-point performances by Larry Blair and Anthony Smith, en route to an 84-50 victory over cross-town opponent Lynchburg College, Friday evening, at the Vines Center.
Both teams struggled out of the gates as the two squads combined to connect on just 2-of-15 attempts from the field in the opening five minutes of the contest. However, a jumper by Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) at the 14:17 mark seemed to spark the Flames' offense as Liberty strung together a 14-5 run that was capped off by a basket by Damien Hubbard (Jr., G/F, Boyce, Va.) to give Liberty (2-3) a 17-7 lead with 10:22 left to play in the first half.
The lead remained the same for the next several minutes until Lynchburg (0-7) outscored the Flames, 8-3, over a three-minute span and pulled within five points, 26-21, on a pair of free throws by David Sheaffer at the 5:15 mark.
But the Flames responded by scoring 17 of the last 21 points of the opening period and headed into the locker room with a 43-25 halftime lead, thanks in part to shooting 51.6 percent from the field (16-of-31), while holding the Hornets to just 33.3 percent shooting (10-of-33) in the opening half.
The Flames continued to extend their advantage over the first few minutes of the second half as a put-back by Rell Porter (So., F, Pittsburg, Texas) gave Liberty a 49-25 lead at the 17:44 mark of the final period.
Liberty's advantage continued to hover around 20 points over the next nine minutes until a tip-in by Matthew Sweeney trimmed the lead back to 15 points, 60-45, at the 8:53 mark. However, the Flames outscored the Hornets 24-3 over the next seven minutes to seal their second-straight home victory of the season.
Liberty was paced by Blair and Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas) with 18 points each, with Blair going 8-of-15 from the field with nine assists, while Smith was 5-for-11 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from behind the arc and a perfect 4-of-4 from the line.
"I thought we had a great positive attitude tonight and I was glad to see Anthony Smith have a good evening," commented head coach Randy Dunton. "We really needed him to get started shooting wise. So from that standpoint, I thought we made progress."
"I really like what this series does for the community," continued Dunton. "We had over 3,000 people in the Vines Center tonight and it was a great environment. Hopefully that will continue into the rest of the season."
The 18-point performance by Blair helped the guard inch ever so close to his 1,000th career point mark as the junior stands on the verge of becoming the school's 19th member of the 1,000 career points club as he currently has 997 points in his career.
Blair and Smith were followed by Hubbard, who had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Eric Bigby (Jr., F, Meade, Md.) added 12 points and a season-high nine boards.
The Hornets were led by Pete Manos, who scored a team-best 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including 3-of-7 from behind the arc, while Sweeney came off the bench to net 12 points on a 5-of-8 performance from the floor.
The Flames will play their final home game of the calendar year on Tuesday when they host Buffalo in the Vines Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the athletic department will be accepting canned food items at the doors as part of a Christmas food drive, sponsored by CampusSERV.