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Campbell Downs Liberty in Big South Opener

December 1, 2011
|  Buies Creek, N.C.
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Joel Vander Pol led Liberty with a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds, Thursday night.

Despite a valiant effort to open Big South Conference play, the Liberty men's basketball team suffered its fifth consecutive loss, falling to Campbell inside Gore Arena, Thursday night, 96-82.

With the defeat, Liberty falls to 2-6 on the year and 0-1 in conference play. Campbell moves to 6-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Big South. Liberty is now 6-15 all-time in its Big South opening games.

Trey Freeman led the Camels with a game-high 28 points. Joel Vander Pol posted a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds to lead the Flames.

The Camels got off to a 5-0 start in the early moments, thanks to a three-pointer by Darren White and a pair of Rico Ferguson free throws. Liberty cut the deficit to three with a layup, but Campbell countered with four unanswered points to up the margin to seven. John Caleb Sanders prevented the Camels from extending the streak with a layup at 16:43 to make it 9-4 in favor of the home squad.

A one-handed jam by Marvelle Harris ignited the Gore Arena crowd, but Liberty responded with six straight points to climb within one point at 15:18. The Flames remained within one possession of the Camels until Ferguson connected on layup to put the home team ahead, 17-12, 13:03 left in the half.

Both teams traded buckets and free throws during the ensuing seven-plus minute span. Ethan Layer broke up the back and forth battle, knocking down a three-pointer at 5:55 to make it a two-point game. Following a basket by Ferguson, David Minaya cut it back to two with a jump shot. Joel Vander followed up with two free throws to knot the contest, 29-29, with 4:27 remaining in the period.

Trey Freeman knocked down a jump shot to regain the lead for the Camels, but Sanders tied the game once again with a layup at the opposite end. Andrew Ryan gave Campbell a small cushion at the 3:48 mark, nailing a trey to make it 34-31.

Campbell widened its lead to as much as eight during the closing minutes of the half, but Liberty ended the period with four straight points to head into the locker room trailing by four, 45-41, at halftime.

Campbell shot 60.0 percent in the opening half, knocking down 15-of-25 shots. Liberty finished the period with 43.8 percent shooting, hitting 14-of-32 shots. Both squads posted 14 points in the paint in the first 20 minutes. The Flames bench outscored Campbell's in the half, 14-10.

Freeman paced the Camels with 14 tallies, followed by Rico Ferguson with 13. Entering the game as the Big South's leading scorer and rebounder, Eric Griffin was held to one point and one board during the first half. Vander Pol led the Flames with nine points, followed by Sanders, who chipped in seven.

Campbell struck first during the second half with two free throws to take a six-point lead. John Caleb Sanders helped the Flames post five straight points, knocking down a trey and a layup to put Liberty within one, 47-46, at 17:22.

The Camels put distance between themselves and the Flames with a 7-0 run during the next 2:35. Vander Pol halted the streak with a layup at 14:47, to make it a six-point game. Campbell later stretched its lead out to double digits nearly two minutes later with a traditional three-point play by Freeman to take a 61-51 advantage.

Liberty chipped away at the bulge with a 7-0 run during a two-minute span. The Flames received buckets from Minaya, Layer and Sanders during the spurt. Sanders capped off the run with a layup at 10:47 to cut the deficit to three, 63-60.

Once again the Camels looked to break away from the Flames. Campbell regained a 10-point advantage courtesy of a Freeman three-pointer. Darren White tacked on a two made free throws to put the Camels up by 12, 75-63 with 6:41 remaining.

Campbell stretched its lead out to 14 at the 5:09 mark off a layup by White. Nine ticks later, Griffin made a block at the other end, but Vander Pol remained persistent, answering with a thunderous two-handed dunk to make it 82-70 with 4:55 left to play.

Liberty cut it to 10 with a minute remaining, but could not climb any closer, as Campbell hung on for the 96-82 final.

Campbell, who came into the night ranked No. 2 in the country in shooting percentage, concluded the night shooting 55.6 percent, hitting 30-of-54 shots. Liberty finished with 42.9 percent shooting (27-of-63). Liberty outscored the Camels from the bench, 30-18.

The contest was a physical battle, with the two teams combining to commit 60 total fouls during the 40 minutes of action. Both teams took advantage of their time at the charity stripe, hitting more than 70 percent from the line. Campbell knocked down 33-of-43 free throws (74.4 percent), while Liberty was 24-of-33 (72.7 percent) from the line.

White and Ferguson accompanied Freeman's scoring effort with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Along with Vander Pol's career-high performance, Sanders added 14 tallies. Layer posted a career-high 11 points during 11 minutes of play, while Minaya chipped in 10 points.

Campbell returns to Gore Arena on Saturday to host High Point at 1 p.m. Liberty heads to Coastal Carolina to take on the Chanticleers, Saturday. Game time is slated for 2 p.m.