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Liberty Drops Opener to San Diego State, 62-50

November 9, 2007
|  Fresno, Calif.
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Anthony Smith makes a drive toward the basket in the second half.

Anthony Smith makes a drive toward the basket in the second half.

Liberty lost its seventh-straight season opener as San Diego State got hot at the right time to defeat the Flames, 62-50, on the opening evening of Fresno State's World Vision Classic, at the World Vision Classic, on Friday night.

The Aztecs move to 1-0 in the infancy stage of the 2007-08 season, while the Flames fall to 0-1.

The contest started out as a defensive juggernaut. San Diego staked themselves to a 7-4 lead on a three-point basket by Tim Shelton at the 16:31 mark. Neither team added to its point total over the next two minutes until Rell Porter hit the first end of two free throws for the Flames, cutting the lead to 7-5 at 14:43.

Billy White hit a jumper on the next possession to push the lead to 9-5 for the Aztecs. Once again, neither squad could find the basket until the 9:48 mark when Anthony Smith hit a three-point bucket, cutting the lead to 9-8 with 9:48 left in the opening period.

Smith then stole the ball from Kyle Spain, which led to TeeJay Bannister dishing an assist to Porter to give Liberty its first lead of the game, 10-9, with 8:55 remaining.

San Diego State bounced back with six-straight points, with the run being capped by a Billy White dunk to take a 15-10 lead with 5:59 remaining.

Liberty cut the lead back to two points, 15-13, on a Kyle Ohman three-point basket on the very next position. The Aztecs then made a push near the end of the half, taking a 10-point advantage, 27-17, courtesy of a 12-4 spurt, finished by a three-point bucket by Lorrenzo Wade with 45 seconds left in the first half.

Bannister's two free throws with nine-tenths of a second remaining allowed the Flames to enter the intermission trailing in single digits, 27-19.

Neither squad could find its shooting touch during the first half. San Diego State hit on 37.5 percent on 9-of-24 shooting. Liberty was even less effective, hitting 27.3 percent on 6-of-22 shooting.

Fresno State got hot to start the second half, going on a 14-3 run capped by a Ryan Amoroso jumper, extending its lead to 43-22, with 12:50 remaining.

The Aztecs and the Flames went back and forth for the remainder of the game, concluding with a Liberty 6-0 run to finish the game, 62-50.

Liberty showed improvement in the second frame, hitting on a 40-percent clip, raising its game mark to 34 percent on 16-of-47 shooting. The Flames were led by Porter who tied a career-best with 14 points. Smith assisted with 11 points, while Bannister chipped in seven points in the losing cause. Alex McLean led all rebounders with seven caroms.

The Aztecs were hot in the second half, hitting 57.1 percent of its shots, bringing their game total to 46.7 percent on the evening as they hit 21-of-45 from the field.

Spain was the key point man for San Diego State, collecting 14 tallies. Wade, the Aztecs' leading returning scorer, was limited much of the night, but finished strong with 12 total points.

The Flames return to action tomorrow night against host Fresno State in the World Vision Classic. Tip is set for 5:30 p.m., at the Save Mart Center.

Ritchie McKay's Quotes

San Diego State is a good team. It was difficult to simulate its length and athleticism in practice, so I was a little nervous going into the game. I thought we would turn the ball over, and we did. Once we settled down, we were okay. San Diego State did a great job of getting us out of character.

We expected Lorenzo [Wade] and Kyle [Spain] to have good nights. We have to do a more complete job if we expect to win.