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Liberty Clinches No. 5 Seed With Win Over Campbell
The Liberty men's basketball team clinched a No. 5 seed in the 2012 Big South Championship, defeating Campbell on Saturday, 49-41.
With the victory, the Flames finish the season 14-17 overall and 9-9 Big South and are set to face No. 4 seed Charleston Southern in the quarterfinals, on Wednesday. Campbell concludes the regular season at 17-14 overall and 11-6 in the Big South.
The victory sent seniors John Brown, Tanner Hoyt, David Minaya and Jesse Sanders out with one last victory in front of their own fans. Prior to the opening of Liberty's final regular season contest in the Vines Center, the foursome was honored as part of Senior Night.
Burrus led the Flames, tying a career high with 20 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. The forward also added a career-high six blocks, the most since he swatted five shots against Radford on Jan. 15, 2011. Burrus becomes the fifth Flame to score 20 points in a game this season. The last time the Winterville, N.C., native posted 20 points was during his freshman season against VMI (Jan. 28, 2010).
John Caleb Sanders chipped in 14 points for the Flames. Darren White led Campbell with 13 points, followed by Lorne Merthie with 11.
Liberty shot 37.5 percent (18-of-48) for the contest, while holding Campbell to 29.0 percent (18-of-62). The Flames victory is their first when scoring under 50 points since defeating Tusculum, 46-45, in overtime on Dec. 11, 2001.
The Camels won the rebounding battle, 40-36 and edged Liberty in the paint, 20-18. However, the Flames went 7-of-17 from three-point range, outscoring Campbell from behind the arc, 21-12.
Campbell lit up the scoreboard first off baskets by Trey Freeman and Eric Griffin. Burrus answered on the other end with a layup to cut it two, but a White dunk regained the four-point advantage for the Camels. After another layup by Burrus, Campbell posted four more points on a Freeman jumper and a Marvelle Harris dunk to make it 10-4 at 14:51.
The Flames began to find their mark during the ensuing 5:23, going on a 9-0 run. Tomasz Gielo kickstarted the burst with a layup, followed by a made free throw from Burrus. With just under 10 minutes left in the half, John Caleb Sanders knocked down back three-pointers to put Liberty ahead by three.
Freeman broke up the momentum with a jumper at 8:01, pulling the Camels within a point of the Flames. A Burrus layup regained the three-point cushion for Liberty, but a three-pointer by White knotted with game at 15 with 3:25 left in the period.
Liberty outscored the Camels, 7-2 during the remaining minutes of the half. A three-pointer by Tavares Speaks with 25 ticks left gave Liberty s five-point lead at halftime, 22-17.
Burrus led the Flames at halftime with 11 points and seven rebounds, followed by John Caleb Sanders with six tallies. White paced the Camels with five points.
Defense themed the first half, with both teams having trouble making baskets. Campbell shot 29.6 percent (8-of-27) in the opening period, while the Flames finished with 36.0 percent shooting (9-of-25).
The Flames edged Campbell in the paint, 12-10 and off turnovers, 6-4. Campbell's halftime total marked the second straight contest the Camels have finished with 17 tallies in the first period.
The Flames came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, outscoring Campbell 8-2 in the early going. Burrus highlighted the span with six of Liberty's eight tallies, helping the Flames hold a 30-19 advantage at 15:19.
The three-pointers began to fly over the next two minutes and change. After a trey from Campbell's Lorne Merthie at the 14:04 mark, Speaks countered on the other end with one of his own four seconds later. John Caleb Sanders knocked down his third of the game with 13:02 remaining, putting Liberty up, 38-26.
The Camels cut the Liberty lead to seven, but John Caleb Sanders struck again at 8:49 with his fourth trey to give the Flames a 10-point lead. Campbell climbed with three points, courtesy of a 7-0 run to make it 41-38 at 4:25.
After a made free throw by Burrus, Campbell cut it to one with a three-pointer. Speaks answered with his third trey of the contest with 1:05 left to put the Flames up by four.
With Campbell forced to foul on the next Liberty possession, Minaya knocked down two free throws to help seal one last victory inside the Vines Center for the senior on Senior Night.
John Caleb Sanders capped off the Flames scoring with a fast break layup in the final 14 seconds en route to the 49-41 decision.
The Flames head to Asheville, N.C. for the 2012 Big South Championship to take on No. 4 Charleston Southern on Wednesday. Official seedings and game times will be announced later tonight by the conference office.