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Men's Hoops Wins Third-Straight
The victory moved Liberty to 5-4 on the season, marking the first time the Flames have been over .500 this year. After losing three games during the opening 42 hours of the season, Liberty has won five of its last six games over the last three weeks.
The win also served as the Flames' first ever over Presbyterian in a series that was resurrected for the first time since the Blue Hose topped the Flames in overtime, 95-91, on Jan. 5, 1979, in Clinton, S.C.
The game started out in a crawl, as Presbyterian took the early 2-0 lead on an Al'Lonzo Coleman bucket 1:32 into the contest. The Blue Hose extended the lead to 3-0 when Coleman hit the first of a two-shot trip to the foul line at 16:54.
Liberty missed its first four shots of the contest before Alex McLean slammed home two points at 16:54, cutting the Blue Hose lead to one, 3-2. McLean's bucket sparked Liberty to an 11-2 surge, finished by a B.J. Jenkins jumper from the right elbow at 11:40. Jenkins' bucket gave Liberty an 11-5 lead.
Liberty quickly pushed the lead to 15 points, 27-12, when McLean took a Jenkins pass to the basket at 5:05. The Flames were able to maintain the sizeable advantage for the duration of the first half, heading into the break with an 18-point advantage after a McLean bucket at 1:00.
The first half belonged to McLean and Anthony Smith, who scored 15 and 11 points respectively, helping Liberty to shoot 59.3 percent (16-of-27) from the field.
The Blue Hose struggled from the floor, hitting 25.9 percent (7-of-27) of their shots. Presbyterian struggled even more from three-point range, unable to hit one three-point bucket in eight tries.
The Blue Hose stormed out of the intermission reeling off a 14-1 run, capped by a John Johnson bucket at 16:02, to cut the Liberty lead to five, 36-31.
Liberty halted the Presbyterian surge with a McLean bucket at 15:48, extending the lead to 38-31. Kyle Ohman scored five-straight points to push Liberty's lead back to nine, 48-37, at the 12:30 mark.
And the Blue Hose would get no closer, as the Flames closed out the game holding a 21-10 advantage, a run which included five-straight points by Tim Layer.
Liberty shot over 50 percent for the third-straight game, all of which have resulted in Flames victories, finishing this contest hitting 55.8 percent (29-of-52) from the floor. Presbyterian improved on its first half shooting, connecting on 46.4 percent (13-of-28) shooting in the second stanza, finishing at a 36.4 percent (20-of-55) clip for the game.
After averaging 10 made three-point field goals a game coming into the contest, the Blue Hose were unsuccessful tonight, missing all 16 attempts they took. The last time Liberty halted an opponent from making a three-point field goal was Dec. 5, 2003, when Virginia Intermont went 0-of-6. Liberty has never held a team scoreless from behind the arc, when the opponent has at least ten attempts, during this decade.
McLean was a force down low, leading the Flames with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, while grabbing nine caroms, one short of his fourth double-double of the season. Ohman and Smith chipped in 13 points apiece in the win. Liberty also dished out 20 assists, five by Ohman, followed closely by four each by TeeJay Bannister and Jenkins.
Coleman led the Blue Hose with 18 points and nine rebounds. Bostic chipped in 13 points in the losing cause. Presbyterian joined Coker as the second team Liberty has held under 50 points this season.
Liberty will embark on an 11-day hiatus, before returning to the road on Dec. 15, when the Flames travel to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on the Campbell Fighting Camels. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., inside Carter Gymnasium. The last time Liberty met Campbell on the hardwood was March 7, 1994, the day Liberty claimed its first Big South Championship over the Fighting Camels.
Ritchie McKay's Quotes
"I thought Presbyterian played really hard in the second half. They're a team that was down single digits, within a possession at nationally ranked Clemson. We knew they were capable and would play hard.
"Presbyterian came in here averaging 10 three-point buckets a game and I was proud of our group, shutting them out from behind the arc."