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Despite Overcoming Early Deficit, Flames Fall To Panthers
The Liberty Flames (7-11, 1-3 BSC) dropped their 20th-straight road game as the High Point Panthers (13-5, 4-0 BSC) pulled out a close 77-71 decision at the Millis Athletic Center on Wednesday night.
The last time the Flames won a road game was at UNC Asheville on February 24, 2005, when Liberty topped the Bulldogs, 92-80.
The Panthers used a 24-7 run in the opening minutes capped by a three-point basket by Landon Quick to take a 29-11 lead with 8:16 left to play in the first period. However, the Flames answered back as the closed out the half by scoring 23 of the games' next 31 points as Larry Blair's three-pointer with 53 seconds left cut High Point's lead to three points, 37-34.
Liberty continued its run in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring six of the first eight points to take a one-point lead, 38-37, on a runner by Blair at the 17:57 mark.
High Point came right back on a 11-4 run capped by Mike Jefferson hitting two free throws with 14:42 remaining, allowing the Panthers to regain the lead, 48-44.
The Flames slowly chipped away at High Points' lead, narrowing the margin to one point, 58-57, on an Alex McLean lay-up with 9:19 left in the game. But, that would be as close as the Flames would get the rest of the contest as High Point maintained a 19-14 advantage over the remaining nine minutes to hold onto for the win.
Blair led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Blair missed his first start of the season, for violating team rules, breaking a 64-consecutive start streak in his career. The last time Blair did not start was on December 30, 2004, at Marist.
McLean collected his seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Anthony Smith rounds out the top Flames with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Liberty shot 44.6 percent from the field on the game as the Flames connected on 25-of-56 attempts from the floor. The Flames dominated the glass, outrebounding High Point by 16 boards, 40-24.
Arizona Reid scored his 1,000 career point to lead the Panthers with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Four other Panthers reached double figures. Jerald Minnis, Mike Jefferson and Quick all scored 13 points, and Eugene Harris scored 12 points off the bench.
High Point became the fifth team in the last six games to shoot better than 50 percent from the field against the Flames as the Panthers hit on 53.2 percent of their shots on 25-of-47 from the floor.
The game proved to be a physical contest as a combined 50 team fouls were called on the two squads. Liberty lost two players to the violations as both Dwight Brewington and Smith fouled out for the Flames.
Liberty continues a three-game road trip at Coastal Carolina on Saturday. Tip is set for 2 p.m. EST.