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Panthers Down Flames In Regular-Season Final
For the second-straight game, the Flames ran into a hot shooting team as High Point connected on 50.8 percent of its field goal attempts en route to a 78-49 Big South victory over the Flames, Saturday night, at the Millis Center.
With the victory, the Panthers even their conference record at 8-8 (15-12 overall), wrapping up the fifth seed for High Point in the upcoming Big South Basketball Championship. The loss drops Liberty's league record to 3-13 (7-22 overall), while the Flames had already secured the eighth seed coming into the game.
High Point will travel to Radford, Va. on Tuesday to face the fourth-seeded Highlanders at the Dedmon Center, while the Flames travel to Rock Hill, S.C. to face top-seeded Winthrop at Winthrop Coliseum with both quarterfinal games scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m.
Damien Hubbard (Jr., F, Boyce, Va.) knocked down the first basket of the night with a jumper in the lane at the 19:14 mark. However, the Panthers scored 14 out of the next 15 points in the contest, taking a 14-3 lead on a Akeem Scott lay-up with 15:14 left to play in the first half.
But the Flames slowly chipped away at the lead over the next nine minutes of play and capped off a 14-4 run with a jumper by Doug Stewart (So., F, Sanford, N.C.) to regain the lead, 18-17, at the 6:40 mark.
The two teams traded the lead back and forth over the next three minutes of action as a jumper by Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) allowed Liberty to recapture the lead, 28-27, with 3:33 left before the intermission. But that would be the last time that Liberty would find the basket in the first half as High Point closed the opening period on a 9-0 run to take an eight-point lead, 35-27, at the break.
A basket by Hubbard with 16:28 left to play in the half trimmed High Point's lead back to 10 points, 41-31, but the Panthers held the Flames without a field goal over the next 11 minutes as High Point went on a 22-3 run to take a 63-34 lead over Liberty on a lay-up by Issa Konare at the 6:39 mark.
Blair was finally able to snap the Flames' 11-minute streak without as basket at the junior knocked down a trey from the top of the key with 5:56 left to play, but the damage had already been done as the closest that Liberty would get over the remainder of the game was 23 points on a fast-break dunk by Blair, giving the guard his sixth 30-point game of the year.
High Point finished the contest shooting 50.8 percent from the field as they knocked down 30-of-59 attempts from the field, while holding Liberty to just 36.0 percent shooting from the floor (18-of-50).
The contest was Senior Night for two members of the Panthers' roster as Konare and Akeem Scott played their final game in the Millis Center and neither player disappointed their supporters as Konare recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while adding four blocked shots, and Scott added nine points and two steals.
Justin Dunn came off the bench to add 13 points, while Arizona Reid and Landon Quick rounded out High Point's double-figurer scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Blair paced the way for the Flames with 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line, while Hubbard followed with 10 and five rebounds.