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Flames Snap Losing Streak With Win Over Rival Radford, 80-66
The Flames didn't waste any time getting started as they staked themselves to a quick 7-0 lead capped with a transition lay-up by Alex McLean with 17:33 left in the opening period.
Liberty extended its lead over the next 13 minutes as they held a 15-11 advantage capped by a transition dunk by Anthony Smith on a pass from B.J. Jenkins, giving Liberty a 22-11 lead with 4:06 left in the first half.
The Flames closed out the half holding a 7-6 advantage as Liberty scored a basket by Tyler Baker off a Larry Blair pass with four seconds left to take a 29-17 lead into the break.
The Flames broke a streak of seven-straight halves where they allowed opponents to shot over 50 percent as the Highlanders shot only 31.6 percent on 6-of-19 shooting. The last time an opponent shot under 50 percent was on December 28 when the Flames faced Seton Hall at the BYU Holiday Classic. Tonight marks the first time since December 18 at Buffalo that the Flames led at halftime.
The Flames opened the half on a big 16-6 run capped by an Alex McLean put back to make it 45-23 with 13:42 left in the game.
The Highlanders then went on a 14-6 run finished off by a lay-up by Martell McDuffy with 9:05 left in the game making it 51-38 Flames advantage.
The Flames then went on an 11-7 run capped by a Blair three-point basket with 5:01 left in the game making it a Liberty 63-48 advantage. Blair was fouled by Amir Johnson on the shot but missed the ensuing free throw despite leading the Big South Conference in free throw shooting at 89.1 percent.
The Flames survived a foul barrage by Radford late in the game as the Highlander tried to get back in the game as Liberty held a slight 19-17 advantage over the remaining five minutes as McLean scored the last points of the game with four seconds left to seal the 80-66 victory.
The Flames shot an astounding 59.4 percent in the second half on 19-of-32 shooting and Radford stepped up its second half shooting hitting on 48.6 percent of its attempts on 18-of -37 shooting.
The Flames were led by Blair who scored 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, while grabbing four rebounds and tying a career high with 10 assists. Blair last dished 10 assists last season in the Flames' 88-54 victory. Smith tallied his first career double-double as he scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and dished a career-high five assists. McLean chipped in 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Tyler Baker scored seven points in 14 minutes to round out the top performers.
The Highlanders had three players in double figures led by Kenny Thomas who scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while Chris Oliver scored 17 points with seven rebounds. Reggie McIntyre chipped in 15 points and grabbed four rebounds while only playing the second half after arriving from the Roanoke airport at halftime.
The Flames are back in action on Saturday evening when defending Big South champions the Winthrop Eagles come to the Vines Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.