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Turnovers Sink Flames' Ship Against Winthrop

February 12, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Rell Porter clamps down defensively on Taj McCullough during Liberty's loss to the Eagles on Tuesday.

Rell Porter clamps down defensively on Taj McCullough during Liberty's loss to the Eagles on Tuesday.

Cold shooting and turnovers led to Liberty's 59-50 setback to the Winthrop Eagles, Tuesday night, inside the Vines Center.

Liberty shot 40.9 percent (18-of-44) from the field and committed 18 turnovers, 11 of which were in the second half, as their 11-game home winning streak came to an end. The Flames fall to 13-12 on the season and 5-5 in Big South play. Winthrop improves to 16-9 and 7-3 in Big South action.

Liberty was the first on the board when TeeJay Bannister found Alex McLean on the block for a basket at 19:41. Winthrop quickly matched the Flames, as Michael Jenkins hit a jumper from the right elbow on the Eagles next possession at 19:22.

Bannister then stole an errant pass by Chris Gaynor and dished out another assist on transition, this time to a streaking Anthony Smith who dunked home two points at 18:34, giving Liberty the 4-2 advantage.

Winthrop scored four-straight points to take the 6-4 advantage, via Taj McCullough and Mantoris Robinson field goals. Robinson's bucket at 16:21 gave the Eagles the early advantage.

The Flames then stormed to a seven-point lead, 15-7, due to an 11-2 run. A Kyle Ohman trey capped the surge at 11:10. Liberty extended the margin to nine points, 18-9, after Smith connected from behind the arc with 10:18 left in the opening stanza.

Liberty managed just one more field the remainder of the first period, a B.J. Jenkins basket at 7:24, allowing Winthrop to tie the game at 21 a piece going into the intermission. Robinson capped the 12- 3 run with a jumper at the 1:05 mark.

Liberty finished the first half, hitting 40 percent (8-of-20) of its shots, and shooting 22.2 percent (2-of-9) from three-point range. Winthrop connected on 34.6 percent (9-of-26) of its shots from the floor. The Eagles did not make a three-point basket in the opening period, missing on all six attempts from behind the arc. The Flames held the rebound advantage in the opening period, 16-14, but Winthrop grabbed five offensive boards and managed to score six second-chance points.

Winthrop opened up the second half on an 8-2 spurt, taking a six-point lead, 29-23, on a Charles Corbin bucket with 17:10 left to play. Liberty struck back quickly, tying the game at 29 with 15:55 left in the contest, courtesy of treys by Ohman and Jeremy Anderson.

The Eagles' Jenkins connected for a three-pointer at 15:34, allowing Winthrop to take a three point lead, 32-29. However, Liberty rode a Jenkins bucket and a McLean marker to retake the lead, 33-32, with 12:41 remaining.

The seesaw battle continued, as Winthrop tallied seven-straight points. A McCullough basket finished the run with 10:10 left, and gave the Eagles a 39-33 advantage. Liberty quickly narrowed the six point deficit down to two at the 9:00 minute mark, 39-37, as Jenkins nailed a jumper and McLean added two more from the charity stripe.

However, Liberty was unable to get any closer. The Eagles extended its lead to 12 points, outscoring the Flames 15-5. Byron Faison's basket at 2:26 capped the stretch. The Eagles held their advantage over the final two-and-a-half minutes, securing the nine-point victory, 59-50.

Liberty shot 40.9 percent (18-of-44) from the floor for the game, and 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from three-point land. Winthrop connected on 63.6 percent (14-of-22) of its shots in the second half to finish the contest at a 47.9 percent (23-of-48) clip. The Eagles shot 23.1 percent (3-of-13) from beyond the arc.

The Flames were led by McLean, who tallied his third-straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. McLean now has 12 double-doubles on the season, 24 in his career and nine in his last 12 games. McLean also collected his 500th career rebound during the contest. Winthrop had three players in double figures, led by McCullough's 14 points. Corbin and Jenkins each added 10 points.

Liberty returns to action on Saturday, when they make the trek to Coastal Carolina, opening a three-game road trip. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m., inside Kimbel Arena. Winthrop takes the hardwood on Saturday too, hosting Radford for a 7 p.m. tilt.