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Struggles From the Field Put Sam Houston over Liberty
Continuing play in the Progressive Legends Classic, the Liberty men's basketball team squared off with Huntsville Subregional host Sam Houston State, Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Flames, the Bearkats took advantage of Liberty's tough shooting night, defending their home turf inside the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum with a 64-50 victory.
Liberty falls to 0-5 on the year, while Sam Houston improves to 2-3, this season.
Davon Marshall led all scorers with a season-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 at the foul line. Tavares Speaks and John Caleb Sanders added seven tallies. JR Coronado paced Liberty on the glass with eight rebounds while chipping in four points.
Terrence Motley and James Thomas led the Bearkats with 14 and 13 points, respectively, while adding eight rebounds, apiece.
The Bearkats concluded the night shooting 40.0 percent (20-of-50) from the field while holding the Flames to 33.3 percent (16-of-48). Despite Sam Houston missing 15 foul shots (20-of-35) on the night, Liberty was unable to take advantage at the other end. The Bearkats capitalized on the Flames 15 turnovers, converting them into 17 points. Sam Houston also received solid play from its reserves, outscoring the Flames off the bench, 32-12.
Both teams started off cold on offense in the opening minutes. With the Bearkats leading by three at the 12:19 mark, Marshall sank his 13th three-pointer of the season to knot the contest at 8. After a Bearkat basket, Liberty claimed the lead thanks to another three-pointer by Casey Roberts.
Roberts then followed up the bucket with a layup to give the Flames a three-point advantage. Motley tied the contest again with 8:41 left in the half, followed by a three-pointer by Darius Gatson 50 ticks later, which gave Sam Houston a 16-13 advantage.
The Bearkats ballooned their lead off another Motely basket and Gatson trey. A Marshall layup made it a six-point game with 2:34 left. A trio of Sam Houston free throws gave the Bearkats a 24-15 advantage at halftime.
Each squad struggled from the field in the period. Sam Houston shot 36.0 percent (9-of-25), while holding Liberty to 26.1 percent (6-of-23). Despite the Flames having strong performances from three-point land in the last three games, Dale Layer's squad was held to 22.2 percent (2-of-9) from behind the arc.
Gatson and Motley led all scorers at the half with six points. Marshall and Roberts each had five points for the Flames. JR Coronado finished the first 20 minutes with five rebounds.
In the second half, the Bearkats began to widen the gap further. After a Sanders layup at 19:04, Sam Houston went on a 10-0 run over the next minute and a half. Chad Donley halted the burst with a three-pointer at 17:14 to make it 34-20.
The Bearkats outscored the Flames, 11-2, over the next 6:12 to hold a 23-point lead. Marshall cut it to 20 with 10:49 left on the clock with another three-pointer. With the Bearkats still leading by 20 at the 8:35 mark, Liberty began to chip away at the bulge over the next 3:10. Liberty outscored Sam Houston, 8-4, during the span. After a fast break layup by Speaks, a Coronado free throw at the 5:25 mark put Liberty within 16, 54-38.
Sam Houston stretched its advantage to 17 with 1:24 remaining off a Marquel McKinney three-pointer. Marshall countered with trey of his own seven seconds later.
The Flames got within 13, but could not inch any closer, allowing Sam Houston to hang on for the 64-50 final.
Liberty concludes play in the Progressive Legends Classic, Wednesday, taking on Southern Miss. The contest marks the first-ever meeting between the two squads. Tipoff inside the Bernard C. Johnson Coliseum is slated for 6 p.m. (EST).