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Solid Shooting Effort Lifts Liberty To Victory Over Longwood
After a dismal performance that saw Liberty shot just 29.4 percent from the field and score 45 points in a home game, Liberty put together its third-best shooting performance of the year as the Flames shot 52.9 percent from the field en route to a 75-66 victory over Longwood, Monday evening, at the Vines Center.
The game remained close over the first several minutes of the first half until Evan Risher (So., G, Fort Worth, Texas) took a feed from Damien Hubbard (Jr., G/F, Boyce, Va.) for a fast-break lay-up to put Liberty (6-18) up by five, 12-7, at the 14:05 mark.
However, Longwood (7-18) scored 11 out of the next 14 points to take a one-point lead, 16-15, as Maurice Sumter pulled down a rebound and took the ball the length of the court for a jumper with 10:40 left to play.
The Flames answered back on the next possession as Eric Bigby (Jr., F, Meade, Md.) allowed Liberty to regain the lead with a two-point basket on the ensuing possession, but that would be the last time that Liberty would lead over the rest of the period as the Lancers put together a 13-4 run to take an eight-point lead, 29-21, on a lay-up by Kirk Williams with 5:57 left to play in the opening half.
Three minutes later, Longwood took its largest lead of the game as a jumper by Sumter pushed the Lancers' advantage to 10 points, 33-23, with 2:25 left before the intermission. Liberty scored five-straight points to trim the lead back to five points as Rell Porter (So., F, Pittsburg, Texas) converted on 1-of-2 free throw attempts with 1:19 left to play before the two teams settled on a six-point Longwood lead at the break, 36-30.
Liberty came out of the locker room fired up and connected on back-to-back three-pointers by Porter and Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) to knot the game at 36-36 just 49 seconds in to the final period. The two teams exchanged leads back and forth six times over the next six minutes until Blair knocked down a jumper and followed Risher with a trey from the corner to give Liberty a five-point lead, 53-48, with 10:38 left to play.
The Flames pushed their lead to as mush as six points, 59-53, on a Blair jumper at the 7:23 mark, but the Lancers won't go away as Longwood got within two points on two separate occasions, including after a lay-up by Sumter with 3:35 left to play, 66-64.
But Liberty's defense clamped down and held the Lancers without a field goal over the rest of the period (0-of-4) and just two free throws to seal its sixth victory over the year.
Liberty finished the game shooting 52.9 percent from the field with back-to-back 50 percent halves (50.0 percent in the first half, 13-of-26, and 56.0 percent in the second half, 14-of-25), including a 46.2 percent mark from behind the three-point arc (6-of-13).
Blair led the Flames as he netted 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line, while Risher added 18 points and seven assists as he was 5-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. Anthony Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas) chipped in with 16 points as he shot a season-best 7-of-11 from the field, while Porter rounded out the team's double-figure scorers with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Lancers also placed four players in double figures with Sumter leading the way with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, while Dana Smith and Clayton Morgan netted 14 points apiece with Morgan leading the team with nine rebounds. Williams came off the bench to add 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from the line.
The Flames begin their Big South Conference stretch run on Wednesday when they travel to Birmingham, Ala. to face Birmingham-Southern at Bill Battle Coliseum. Tip-off in the first of five remaining conference games is set for 8 p.m. (EST).