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Second Half Surge Moves Liberty Past Virginia Intermont

December 10, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Antwan Burrus led the Flames Saturday night with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
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The Liberty men's basketball team snapped its seven-game losing skid, Saturday night, defeating Virginia Intermont in the Vines Center, 78-60.

With the scored tied at 37 with 15:59 remaining in the contest, the Flames proceeded to go on a 14-0 run over the next 4:34 to eventually seal the win.

The Flames' victory moves Liberty to 3-8 on the year. Liberty is now 3-0 all-time against the Cobras.

Antwan Burrus paced the Flames with 19 points while adding 10 boards, finishing one tally shy of tying his career high in scoring. Justin Morris led the Cobras with a game-high 21 points.

Liberty jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the opening nine minutes, receiving baskets from four different Flames. Burrus capped off the run with layup at 11:03. After missing its first 17 shots, Virginia Intermont garnered its first field goal at 10:42 courtesy of a Marquette Knight layup to make it 11-2.

The Cobras began to find their shot over the next 3:01, posting 11 points during the span. Once again Knight was there for Intermont, connecting on another layup to put the visitors within seven, 20-13, at 7:41.

Virginia Intermont outscored the Flames 15-5 over the next 4:30. A layup by Tihlee Anderson knotted the game at the 3:54 mark. The guard from Gale City, Va., followed up with a free throw to give the Cobras the lead. Joshua Hart later tacked on two more from the charity stripe to give Virginia Intermont a 28-25 lead with 3:11 remaining.

With the seconds winding down in the half, Jesse Sanders tried to regain the lead for Liberty. His attempt at a go-ahead layup was a split second after the buzzer, allowing the Cobras to carry a 30-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Liberty shot 43.3 percent from the field in the first half, hitting 13-of-30 shots. The Cobras went 11-of-32 (34.4 percent) in the opening stanza.

Liberty edged Virginia Intermont in the paint in the opening period, 20-14, but the Cobras' bench came up big, outscoring Liberty's, 12-0. Virginia Intermont's defense forced Liberty to commit seven turnovers, allowing the Cobras to hold a 7-4 advantage on points off turnovers.

Knight led the Cobras with 12 points at the half, while John Caleb Sanders also had 12 first-half tallies for the Flames.

Liberty wasted little time in the early moments of the second half. Tavares Speaks gave the Flames the lead in the opening 25 ticks with a layup. The Raleigh, N.C., native later capped off an 8-0 Flames run with two made free throws to put Liberty ahead, 37-30, with 18:11 left in the contest.

The Cobras answered Liberty's surge with one of their own, outscoring the Flames, 7-0, over the next 2:12. Jimmie Ross brought about the game's second tie at the 15:59 mark, throwing down a fast break dunk to knot the contest at 37.

Liberty responded to the temporary stalemate with a 14-0 run over a span of 4:34. Jesse Sanders capped off the burst with two made free throws to give the Flames a 51-37 advantage with 11:25 left in the contest.

The Flames took their largest lead in the contest with 5:57 remaining. Burrus gave Liberty a 25-point cushion with a free throw, making it 67-42.

The Cobras got within 18 points of the Flames down the stretch but could not climb any closer en route to the 78-60 Flames victory.

Liberty finished the contest with its second best shooting performance of the season, hitting 30-of-60 shots (50.0 percent) from the field, while holding the Cobras to 37.1 percent shooting (23-of-62). The Flames ended the night with its most points in the paint this season, winning the battle inside, 46-26.

Along with Burrus' 19-point performance, three other Flames finished with double-digit scoring figures – Tavares Speaks (17), John Caleb Sanders (15) and Jesse Sanders (12). In addition to his scoring effort, Jesse Sanders finished one assist shy of a fourth career triple-double, while leading all players with 12 boards and nine helpers.

Liberty will receive a one-week break before returning to the court next Saturday to host Hampton. The Flames are looking to avenge last season's 62-59 loss (Dec. 22, 2010) to the MEAC member in Hampton, Va. After Liberty led the entire contest, the Pirates rallied in the second half, winning in the final second thanks to a buzzer beating three-pointer. Tip-off for the rematch against the Pirates is slated for 7 p.m.