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Flames Secure Crucial Road Victory
The win moves Liberty to 14-12 on the season and 6-5 in Big South play. It also matches the Flames' win total of last season. Coastal Carolina falls to 12-12 and 5-6 in Big South play.
Smith became the 20th player in program history and ninth in Liberty's Division I era to tally 1,000 career points with his layup at 6:37 in the second half. The slashing Smith was fouled on the play by Phil Wallace, sending the guard to the charity stripe.
It took Liberty nearly three minutes to score its first points of the game. B.J. Jenkins' trey hit the bottom of the net at 17:12, to give the Flames an early 3-2 lead in a half which started out as a defensive struggle. The Flames didn't score another field goal in the following two minutes, yet regained the lead, 6-4, when Jenkins hit another three-point bucket at 15:15.
Five-straight points by Logan Johnson staked Coastal Carolina to its largest lead of the first half at 9-6. Johnson's jumper from the right elbow capped the run at 14:15. Liberty then held the Chanticleers scoreless for the next seven minutes. Using the solid defensive effort, the Flames tallied nine unanswered points to take a 15-9 advantage. TeeJay Bannister finished the stretch with a jumper in the lane with 12:55 remaining.
Bryant Wallace ended the Liberty run with a bucket in the paint at 7:55, cutting Liberty's lead to four, 15-11. Liberty then pushed its lead to double digits, 23-11, with an old fashioned three-point play by Alex McLean, followed by a Kyle Ohman trey from the corner at 6:40 on the Flames' trip down the floor. Jenkins capped the burst with a layup at 4:50.
Coastal Carolina came back in the closing four minutes of the first stanza, going into the intermission on the heels of a 10-2 run. Jack Leasure hit a three-point bucket with 2.5 seconds left before the break, slicing the Liberty lead to 25-21at halftime.
Liberty shot 37.0 percent (10-of-27) from the floor, including 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from three-point range. Coastal Carolina connected on 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from the field, including 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from three-point land.
In the second half, Coastal Carolina tied the game at 32-32 with a basket in the paint by Anthony Breeze at the 16:34 mark. The Chanticleers then took its final lead of the game, 37-36, courtesy of a 5-4 exchange, capped by two free throws by Phil Wallace at 13:55.
Liberty followed by opening up the game with an 18-5 run, retaking the lead, 54-42. A Jenkins trey from the corner at 7:55 completed the Flames' burst, as Liberty took control. Head coach Ritchie McKay's squad's lead never dropped below 12 points the rest of the way.
Liberty hit 52.2 percent (12-of-23) of its shots in the second period, finishing the game connecting at a 44.0 percent (22-of-50) clip. The Flames shot 37.5 percent (9-of-24) from three-point range. Coastal Carolina continued to struggle from the floor in the second half. The Chanticleers finished the contest hitting 32.7 percent (16-of-49) of its shots and 20.0 percent (5-of-25) from behind the three-point arc.
Smith led the Flames with 17 points, while Jenkins tallied 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Bannister chipped in 11 points and dished out a game-high seven assists. McLean, who faced double and triple teams from the Chanticleers all afternoon, scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds. McLean failed to reach double figures for the first time since he was held to nine points against San Diego State in Liberty's season's opener.
Leasure led the Coastal Carolina charge with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, while Breeze chipped in 14 points and five rebounds. Wallace added eight points and collected a game-high 14 rebounds. Liberty was able to limit two of Coastal's top three-point threats, Leasure and Steven Sexton, to 3-of-18 from three-point range.
Liberty returns to action on Monday, concluding the "Beach Trip", when they travel to Charleston Southern. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m., inside the CSU Field House.