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Flames Drop Big South Opener To UNC Asheville, 84-77

January 6, 2007
|  Asheville, N.C.
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Larry Blair is now third on the Big South all-time scoring list.

Larry Blair is now third on the Big South all-time scoring list.

The Flames dropped their 19th-straight road game and their eighth-consecutive contest overall as Liberty (6-9, 0-1) fell in its Big South Conference opener at UNC Asheville (5-10, 1-0) on Saturday night at the Justice Center, 84-77.
 
The last time the Flames won a road game was on Feb. 24, 2005 at the Justice Center, when Liberty topped the Bulldogs, 84-70. 

Larry Blair, who paced Liberty with 21 points, passed Whit Holcomb-Faye of Radford for third place on the Big South all-time scoring list on his jumper with 11:50 left in the game. Blair has now tallied 1,869 career points. 

The Flames started out the game on a 5-2 run, capped by a tip-in by Damien Hubbard with 17:01 left in the first half, but that turned out to be Liberty's largest lead of the game. 

Liberty lost the advantage for good less than a minute later, when UNC Asheville's Bryan Smithson hit a three-point basket to give his team a 7-5 lead with 16:17 remaining in the half. 

The Flames proceeded to fall behind 37-18 by the half as the Bulldogs went on a 35-13 run, fueled by six blocks by UNC Asheville's 7-6 center, Kenny George. 

In addition, Liberty's shooting from the field was stone cold in the opening half. The Flames were 7-of-31 (22.6 percent) from the field during the opening 20 minutes. No Flame had more than one field goal in the first half and Hubbard led Liberty with four points. 

The second half started out not much better than the first, as the Flames got down by as many as 26 points when Smithson scored with 9:30 left in the game to make it 65-39.

The Flames then got hot, going on an 18-2 run, which was capped by a three-point play by Blair with 3:35 left in the game, making it 71-59. 

A three-point basket by B.J. Jenkins wrapped up a game-ending 18-13 run by Liberty, but it was not enough as the Flames fell for the 12th time in 16 all-time Big South openers. 

Blair scored his 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting. Dwight Brewington scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and Alex McLean rounded out Liberty's top scorers with 15 points and seven rebounds in the loss. 

The Flames were hot in the second half, shooting 56.1 percent on 23-of-41 field goal attempts. The Bulldogs were proficient from the field the entire evening, shooting 52.7 percent for the game on 29-of-55 tries. 

Smithson led the way for the Bulldogs with 21 points, while K.J. Garland scored 17 points. Vincent James scored 12 points and Garrett Moles rounded out the top UNC Asheville performers with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

The Flames return home when they take on in-state rival Radford on Tuesday at the Vines Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.