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Liberty Drops Final Game of the World Vision Classic to Portland
Liberty fell in its final game of Fresno State's World Vision Classic to the Portland Pilots, 73-62, on Sunday afternoon, inside the Save Mart Center.
The setback is the Flames fourth-straight, dating back to last season and drops them to 0-3 to begin the year. Portland collects its first win of the year, moving their record to 1-2.
In a closely play first half, the Pilots held the advantage on the scoreboard the majority of the period. The Pilots drew first blood, taking a quick 4-0 lead after a Luke Sikma jumper at 17:47.
After pushing the led to 8-4 at the 16:18 mark on another Sikma basket, Liberty tied the game, 8-8, for the first time since the opening tip-off, when TeeJay Bannister scored coming out of the first media timeout, with 15:17 remaining in the opening stanza.
After a turnover by Portland's Kramer Knutson, guard Anthony Smith gave Liberty its first lead of the contest with a driving lay-up at 14:35, for a 10-8 Flames' advantage.
The Pilots came roaring back with a 12-3 run, to take a 20-13 lead, capped by a wide-open three-point bucket by Nik Raivio at 11:01.
On consecutive possessions, Liberty cut into the Pilots advantage. An Alex McLean bucket and a three point basket by Smith in transition following a Kyle Ohman block sliced the lead to 20-18 at the 9:23 mark.
The Pilots pushed its lead back to eight points with a 6-0 run, after Walter Thompson was fouled on a three point attempt. Thompson knocked down all three tries from the charity strip, staking Portland to the 26-18 lead at 8:23.
The Flames fought back on the heels of a 13-5 run, cutting the lead to 32-31 with 3:12 remaining. Two Robin Smeulders' free throws with 35 seconds left sent the Pilots into intermission with a 34-31 advantage.
Liberty had their hottest shooting half of the World Vision Classic, hitting 50 percent of their attempts on 11-of-22 shooting.
Portland was almost as accurate, succeeding with 43.5 percent of its attempts on 10-of-23 shooting.
Liberty immediately cut the Pilot lead to 34-33 on two made free throws by Bannister at the 19:17 mark. However, Portland then pushed the lead back to six , 39-33, on a made three-point bucket by Thompson at 16:39.
Sloppy play by the Flames, including three turnovers, helped the Pilots extend its lead to nine points, 53-44, with 10:58 remaining. Portland later extended its lead to 63-50 on a three-point bucket by Jared Stohl, with 7:58 remaining.
Liberty was able to trim the Pilot lead back to nine points, 66-57, on a Smith layup with 2:32 remaining. It was as close as the Flames would get in the contest's closing minutes, as Portland closed out the game with a double-digit victory, 73-62.
McLean led the Flames by collecting his second-straight double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. McLean was later named to the all-tournament team for his efforts over the weekend. Bannister scored a career-high 17 points and dished out a game-high seven assists. Ohman scored a career-high nine points on 3-of-5 shooting. All three of Ohman's field goals were from beyond the arc, another career-high.
Portland had 40 points off the bench, headed by Thompson's 15. Stohl added 12 points, while Smeulders chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Liberty returns to action on Tuesday in the Flames' home opener against the Coker Cobras. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m., inside the Vines Center.
Ritchie McKay's Quotes
"We've got to have a better sense of execution. We just can't show up and win games at this level. I am anxious to start practice, so we can work on some things."
2007 World Vision Classic All-Tournament Team
Kevin Bell, Fresno State
Dwight O'Neil, Fresno State
Lorenzo Wade, San Diego State
Luke Sikma, Portland
Alex McLean, Liberty
Kyle Spain, San Diego State