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First Half Dominance Lifts Keydets Over Flames
The homestanding Keydets outscored the Flames 45-20 in the opening 20 minutes of the game and then fended off a late charge by the Flames en route to an 84-68 Big South win over Liberty, Saturday evening, at Cameron Hall.
Liberty (4-11, 1-2 BSC) jumped out to a quick lead in the first half as a lay-up by Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) gave the Flames a 6-2 lead at the 16:42 mark. However, VMI (7-8, 2-2 BSC) scored nine of the next 11 points in the game to take an 11-8 lead on a three-pointer by Chavis Holmes with 15:20 left to play in the half.
The Keydets continued to extend their lead over the next three minutes as a three-pointer by Reggie Williams pushed VMI's lead to 18-10 before Damien Hubbard (Jr., G, Boyce, Va.) halted the scoring streak with a jumper at the 12:39 mark.
But the Flames would manage to hit just four field goals over the remainder of the period, while the Keydets outscored Liberty 25-8 over the final 12-plus minutes to take a 45-20 lead into the intermission at halftime. VMI shot 51.7 percent from the field in the opening period (15-of-29), while Liberty managed to hit just 33.3 percent (10-of-30) of its first half field goal attempts.
The Keydets looked like they were going to run away with the victory as Matt Murrer pulled down an offensive rebound and stuck it back to push VMI's lead to 29 points, 53-24, with 16:25 left to play, but Liberty didn't quit as the Flames slowly chipped away at the lead.
An old-fashion three-point play by Rell Porter (So., F, Pittsburg, Texas) trimmed the lead back to 19, 57-38, while Blair nailed a three-pointer on the next possession to get Liberty to within 16 at the 8:39 mark.
A lay-up by Murrer with 5:49 left to play pushed VMI's lead back to 19 points, 67-48, but Liberty outscored the Keydets 12-3 over the next three minutes as a fast break lay-up by Blair cut the Keydets lead to 10, 70-60, with 3:09 left to play. However, the Keydets were solid from the free throw line down the stretch, while Murrer nailed three more baskets to seal the victory.
VMI finished the game 26-of-29 from the free throw line, while the Keydets dominated the Flames on the boards as VMI outrebounded Liberty, 46-30.
Williams led the Keydets with 30 points as the forward was 10-of-19 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, while adding a team-high 12 rebounds. Murrer followed with 16 points, while Preston Beverly came off the bench to add 10 points.
Blair paced the Flames with 28 points as he was 10-of-27 from the field, while tying for team-high honors with six rebounds. Hubbard netted a season-best 20 points as he was 9-of-11 from the field, while tying Blair with six boards.
Liberty return to action next Thursday when they conclude a brief two-game conference road swing when they travel to Rock Hill, S.C. to face defending Big South Conference champion Winthrop on Thursday at 7 p.m.