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Flames Edged by Camels, 73-70
Despite 20 points by Alex McLean and B.J. Jenkins, the Liberty Flames saw their three game-winning streak halted, suffering a tightly-contested 73-70 setback to the Campbell Fighting Camels , Saturday night at Carter Gym.
With the loss, Liberty evens its record at 5-5 on the season, while Campbell improves to 3-6.
Neither team gained much of an advantage early on, as the two squads traded baskets over the first four minutes of play. A three-point basket by Jake Wohlfeil at the 15:21 mark gave the Camels the lead, which they would hold until the waning seconds of the first half.
Five minutes later, TeeJay Bannister found Alex McLean open and the senior connected on a jumper with 9:52 left to play in the first, cutting Campbell's lead to three points, 15-12.
The homestanding Camels proceeded to net the next eight points, closing the 8-0 run on a Preston Dodson jumper at the 7:16 mark to stake Campbell to a 23-12 lead.
The Camels extended the advantage to 12, 29-17, their largest of the first half, on the second of two free throws from Jonathan Rodriguez with 5:08 showing on the first-half clock.
Following a pair of free throws from B.J. Jenkins and a lay-up by Rodriguez with 4:45 left before the break, Liberty strung together a 15-3 run over the remainder of the half.
The run was started by a pair of free throws from McLean. Jenkins netted the next five points, with a three-point basket at 3:54 and two shots from the charity stripe just 12 seconds later. Following the free throws, Campbell netted its lone points over the final five minutes when Woflfeil hit a three pointer at the 2:56 mark, giving the Camels a 34-26 edge.
On the ensuing possession, Liberty freshman guard Jeremy Anderson, playing in his first game of the year after sitting out the first nine with an injury, hit a three from the top of the key to start an 8-0 run to close the half.
At the 2:08 mark, McLean pulled down an offensive rebound off a missed Anthony Smith layup and slammed it home. Smith then connected on a trey with 49 seconds left to knot the game at 34-34 at the intermission.
Jenkins and McLean paced the Flames in the first half, with both players netting 10 points each.
The second half turned into a tightly played back-and-forth affair with the lead changing hands eight times and neither team able to build an advantage of more than six points.
Liberty scored the first three points of the second half to open its first edge since netting the game's opening bucket, 37-34 at 18:35. Jenkins tallied all three markers on a jumper on the Flames' first possession of the half and, after a Campbell turnover and foul, hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe.
The host Camels countered by scoring buckets on each of their next possessions, taking a 39-37 lead 1:13 later on an old fashioned three-point play by center Kyle Vejraska.
Liberty answered on its next trip to knot the contest for the fourth time on the evening, 39-39, with a McLean lay-up at 17:14.
The teams exchanged the lead over the next three minutes play until two made free throws by McLean started a 9-3 run for the Flames at 14:09. During the burst, Anderson and Smith both knocked down three-pointers for Liberty. McLean closed the surge at 10:27 with two more free throws for a 52-46 edge. The six-point advantage was the Flames' largest of the contest.
Campbell erased the Liberty advantage over the next several minutes, taking back the lead, 55-54, on a layup by Vejraska with 7:32 left.
After a Bannister layup put the Flames back on top on their next trip down the floor, Rodriguez connected on 1-of-2 charity tosses at 7:23 to tie the score once again, 56-56.
The Camels then built a six-point edge, 67-61 with 3:08 left, by outscoring Liberty 11-5 over the next three and half minutes.
Down the stretch, the Flames whittled the Campbell lead to two twice. At the 2:00 mark, a McLean layup sliced their hosts' lead to 67-65, while a Bannister layup at 1:10 cut the Camels' advantage to 69-67.
After a Rodriguez bucket moved the Campbell lead back to four in the final minute, Jenkins connected on a three-pointer with 29 seconds left to make it, 71-70.
The Flames forced a turnover on the Camels' next trip down the floor, setting up a chance to take the lead with 18 seconds left. However, Liberty would miss a jumper with seven seconds left and turn the ball over on a walk after getting the offensive rebound.
Wohlfeil hit two foul shots in the closing seconds to seal a 73-70 victory for Campbell.
Liberty shot 55 percent (11-20) from the field in the second half and 47.8 percent from the floor in the contest. Campbell shot 47.8 percent (11-23) in the second stanza and 44.6 percent for the game.
The Camels held the edge on the boards, outrebounding the Flames, 36-24, including a 14-5 advantage in offensive caroms.
McLean posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jenkins also netted 20 points for the Flames, shooting 3-of-5 from behind the three-point arc. Smith was the third Liberty player in double figures with 12 points.
Rodriguez scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down 12 boards to lead Campbell. Vejraska added 15 markers and Reggie Bishop followed with 10 for the Camels.
Liberty travels to Virginia Tech on Wednesday. The match-up with the Hokies is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum.