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Flames Drop Heartbreaker at Clemson, 80-75
Liberty defeated Gardner-Webb, 68-59, Saturday afternoon inside the Vines Center. Upon completion of the conference contest, the Flames boarded a charter flight out of Lynchburg for Sunday's non-conference tilt at Clemson.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead, capped by a Raymond Sykes bucket in the paint at 17:14. Liberty quickly countered, and charged ahead with their first advantage of the contest, 17-11, courtesy of a 15-5 run. Seth Curry and Kyle Ohman each hit two triples during the spurt, while Anthony Smith capped the run by hitting the back end of a two shot foul at 14:21.
Clemson grabbed the lead back at 27-25, via a 16-8 spurt. A Trevor Booker putback at 8:11 ended the Tigers' push to retake the lead.
The Clemson advantage lasted one possession, as Smith tallied a bucket in the lane at 8:30, knotting the contest at 27. The Flames proceeded to tally eight straight points, taking a 35-27 lead, as Ohman hit a three-point bucket at 4:53, capping the burst.
Two David Potter free throws at 4:24 put the Tigers on the scoreboard for the first time in nearly four minutes of play. An Andre Young field goal at 3:04 served as the Tigers' first field goal since the 8:11 mark of the first period, cutting the Flames advantage to four, 35-31.
Liberty closed out the half on a 7-4 advantage, extending its lead to seven points, 42-35. A Curry trey and a Smith layup finished the run. Smith put his bucket in with four seconds left, before intermission.
Liberty shot 50.0 percent (15-of-30) from the floor, including 60.0 percent (6-of-10) from beyond the arc in the opening period.
Clemson connected on 41.7 percent (15-of-36) from the floor, including 25.0 percent (3-of-12) from three-point land.
Coming out of the intermission, back-to-back Curry three-pointers extended Liberty's advantage to 10 points, 50-40, at 17:27. Liberty held its 10 point advantage at the 12:55 mark, 60-50, when Curry hit a pull-up jumper at the top of the key.
Clemson then came charging back, grabbing a one point lead, 67-66, via a 17-6 run. Domontez Stitt capped the charge with a layup at 6:44. Curry fouled Stitt on the play to send him to the line for one attempt. Stitt sank the free throw, giving the Tigers the lead.
Curry came right back down the court to make a three-point bucket, helping Liberty retake the lead, 69-67, with 6:03 left. Smith followed with a bucket at 4:20, as Booker fouled the Plano, Texas native. Smith missed the ensuing free throw, but Liberty held a four point advantage, 71-67.
That would be the last time Liberty would lead in the game. Clemson closed out the game with a 13-4 surge. K.C. Rivers hit a trey at 2:29 putting the Tigers ahead for good, 72-71.
With Liberty trailing by three points, 76-73, Curry took a heavily contested three pointer from the wing with 47.5 seconds left. The attempt rimmed in-and-out and ultimately, sealed Liberty's fate.
Buckets by Booker and Rivers secured the narrow Clemson victory.
Liberty shot 50.0 percent (27-of-54) from the floor, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from three-point range.
Curry tallied a team-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, while grabbing four rebounds. Ohman added 15 points, while Smith chipped in 12 points and pulled down eight caroms. Brolin Floyd also added six points and six rebounds.
Clemson finished the contest connecting on 50.8 percent (32-of-63) from the floor, including 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from beyond the arc.
Rivers led all scorers with 32 points on 13-of-21 shooting, while pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds, securing a double-double. Booker added 18 points, while Terrence Oglesby chipped in 12 points in the winning effort.
Liberty will enjoy a week of rest, before hosting the Anderson Trojans on Mon., Dec. 15. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center.