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Second Half Surge Pushes Richmond Past Liberty
The Liberty men's basketball team saw its three-game win streak come to a halt, Wednesday night, falling to Richmond inside Robins Center, 77-61.
Despite the Flames leading for the majority of the opening half, a 12-2 Richmond run allowed the Spiders to take a four-point lead at halftime. The home team continued the trend during the second half to secure the victory over Liberty.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 5-9 on the year, while Richmond improves to 8-6 overall and 2-1 in the all-time series.
Senior point guard Jesse Sanders inked his name in the Liberty annals for the second straight contest, becoming the 22nd member of the program's 1,000 point club. The Sugar Land, Texas native led the Flames with 14 tallies on the night, giving him 1,012 for his collegiate career.
With five assists on the night, Sanders also surpassed Matt Hildebrand (583, 1991-94) for second all-time on Liberty's career assist listing. Sanders currently has 586 for his Liberty career.
The Flames jumped out to an 8-0 run during the early moments of the game, receiving buckets from David Minaya, John Caleb Sanders and Antwan Burrus. Burrus capped off the burst at the 16:55 mark, connecting on a layup to give the Flames a three possession lead. After a free throw at the other end by Cedrick Lindsay, Burrus posted another layup to put the Flames up nine, 10-1, at 16:04.
Gregg Robins cut the Liberty lead to seven with a jumper in the paint. Jesse Sanders' momentous basket came with 13:11 remaining in the half, sinking a layup to enter into Liberty's 1,000 point club to make it 12-3.
The Spiders gradually crept back into the contest during the ensuing seven-plus minutes of action. With Liberty holding a seven-point edge at 7:35, Richmond dwindled the lead to a pair in less than two minutes. Kendall Anthony helped the Spiders climb within two at 5:58, knocking down a three-pointer to make it 20-18.
Burrus provided a buffer for the Flames 36 seconds later, throwing down a one-handed putback dunk to extend Liberty's advantage to four. Lindsay then connected on a three-pointer to cut the Spiders' deficit to one, 22-21.
After a Speaks jumper gave the Flames a three-point lead, the treys continued to fly. Ethan Layer put Liberty up by six with a three-pointer, but Richmond responded with back-to-back downtown buckets to even things up at 27 with 1:37 left in the half.
With the contest still knotted in the final minute, Richmond posted four straight points off buckets by Darrius Garret and Lindsay to take a 33-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Liberty shot 52.0 percent during the opening period, knocking down 13-of-25 shots. Richmond finished the half with 54.5 percent shooting, hitting 12-of-22 from the field. The Flames controlled the paint, outscoring the Spiders, 18-12. However, Richmond was more successful from behind the arc, outscoring the Flames, 12-3.
Burrus paced the Flames' at half's end with 10 tallies, followed by John Caleb Sanders with six. Josh Duinker led the Spiders at halftime with 10 points, while Lindsay and Darien Brother chipped in nine and eight, respectively.
In the second half, the home team picked up where it left off at the end of the first period. Lindsay sunk his third three-pointer of the game at 18:46, giving the Spiders a seven-point advantage.
Richmond then made it a 10-point game, 45-35, at the 16:01 mark, courtesy of a dunk by Garrett. The Flames were able to cut it to eight off a Speaks jumper 25 seconds later, but could not climb any closer during the remainder of the contest
The Spiders outscored Liberty, 15-5, during the next 4:02 to widen the gap further. Brothers connected on a layup at 11:32, putting Richmond up by 18, 60-42.
Richmond prevented the Flames from gaining traction down the stretch. Garrett continued to find the mark for the Spiders, hitting a jumper to give the Spiders a 20-point lead, 73-53 at 3:57. Liberty was able to cut it to 16, but the home team prevented the Flames from getting any closer en route to the 77-61 final.
Liberty shot 57.1 percent (12-of-21) in the second half, finishing with a season-high 54.3 percent (25-of-46). The Spiders ended the night on 52.9 percent shooting (27-of-51). The Flames win the rebounding battle on the night, 28-23.
Along with Sanders' 14 points, Burrus ended the night with 13 tallies and eight rebounds. Lindsay led the Spiders with 19 points, followed by Brothers, who had 17.
Liberty returns to Lynchburg and Big South action on Saturday, playing host to Charleston Southern at nearby Randolph College. Tipoff inside the Randolph College Physical Education Center is slated for 2 p.m.