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McKay Grabs First Win at Liberty as Flames Cruise to Victory Over Coker
Due to a canceled flight on Sunday night in Fresno, following the Flames' trip west for Fresno State's World Vision Classic, Liberty's squad was not fully back home until 6 p.m., on Monday night.
With the victory over the Cobras, Ritchie McKay earned his first victory at the helm of the Flames. Liberty moves its record to 1-3, winning its third-straight home opener. Coker falls to 0-1.
Early in the game, Coker's Lukas Varaga picked the pocket of B.J. Jenkins on the first possession of the contest, leading to a basket staking Cobras to a quick 2-0 lead.
But, the advantage was short-lived as the Flames quickly shifted into high-gear. Liberty raced to a 22-6 lead, courtesy of a 22-4 run, capped by an Anthony Smith bucket at 9:47.
The Cobras halted the run with a three-point basket by Ryan Fulwood at the 9:32 mark, cutting the score to 22-9. The Flames cruised down the court on the next possession, matching the three-point bucket with a Kyle Ohman marker at 9:10, pushing the score to 25-9.
Coker temporarily halted the streaking Flames, going on a 10-2 run, which included three-point buckets by Fulwood and Blake Terrell. The quick surge was capped by a Sebastian Lacayo basket in the paint at 6:12, cutting Liberty's advantage to points, 29-19.
Both squads went point-for-point for the final six minutes of the first stanza. Rell Porter grabbed an offensive rebound off a Smith miss and stuck it back, allowing the Flames to enter the intermission with a 41-30 lead.
Liberty was hot in the first half, hitting on 64 percent of its shots on 16-of-25 shooting. Coker lived by the three-point field goal, attempting 24 total shots and 12 of them coming from behind the arc. The Cobras shot 50 percent in the opening period on 12-of-24 shooting and 6-of-12 from three-point range.
The Flames turned up the heat on the Cobras exiting haltime, quickly extending the lead to 53-35, at 13:56 , courtesy of two Ohman three-point buckets and five-straight points by Alex McLean.
Back-to-back three-point baskets by Mason Ambler and J.C. Hafner cut the lead to 13 points, 55-40, with 9:41 remaining.
Ohman continued his hot shooting, hitting two more three-point buckets, pushing the Flames' lead to 61-42 with 6:06 left in the contest.
Coker managed a 7-1 spurt, capped by another Fulwood three pointer, at 3:28. And that would be as close as the Cobras would get, as Coker managed just one point over the remaining three minutes of play.
Liberty finished the game hitting 51 percent of its shots on 24-of-47 shooting. Smith led the way with a game-high 15 points and 11 rebounds. Smith's double-double is his first of the year and third of his career.
Ohman, who started his first collegiate game, set career highs with 15 points, including three-point field goals. McLean chipped in with 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, while Jenkins dished out a career-best six assists and grabbed a career-high seven caroms in the win.
Coker was colder in the second half, shooting 31.6 percent from the floor, to finish the contest at 41.9 percent for the game. Hafner led the Cobra cause, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Ambler and Fulwood each chipped in nine points in the losing cause.
Liberty returns to the road on Saturday, when they face Conference USA foe East Carolina. Tip is set for 7 p.m., inside the Minges Coliseum.
Ritchie McKay's Quotes
"I thought our guys did a good job tonight. We really concentrated on the defensive end, and I think in the second half, we played with some defensive consistency.
Kyle [Ohman] is a good player, as each day he grows and gets more confident. We as a coaching staff really think he is one of our best shooters, if not our best. He is a great story and I am happy for his success."