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Clutch Three-Pointer Seals Flames Fate, Sunday

December 2, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Looking for its first win of the season, the Liberty men's basketball team had victory in their grasp against Georgia State, until a clutch three-pointer flipped the script, Sunday afternoon in the Vines Center. With the Flames holding a two-point lead in the final seconds of the contest, Panthers' guard Rashaad Richardson hit the downtown dagger with less than three seconds left, resulting in a 67-66 win for the Panthers.

The defeat drops the Flames to 0-8 for the first time in program history. Liberty also begins the year 0-3 in the Vines Center for the first time in facility's 22-year existence. Georgia State improves to 4-4 on the season and is 2-0 all-time against the Flames.

Despite the defeat, Liberty finished the contest with 12 three-pointers, the most since knocking down 15 in a 95-80 victory at Charleston Southern during the 2008-09 season (Feb. 14, 2009).

Davon Marshall led all scorers with a game-high 25 points, marking the first 20-point game by a Flame this season and the most tallies since a 26-point effort by Evan Gordon at Coastal Carolina on Feb 3, 2011. Marshall's six three-pointers are also the most since Gordon posted the same number in Liberty's 2010-11 season opener against Virginia Intermont (Nov. 12, 2010).

Devonta White and Manny Atkins each had 17 points for the Panthers, followed by R.J. Hunter (12) and Richardson (10). Casey Roberts and Tavares Speaks each finished with 11 and 10 points, apiece. John Caleb Sanders concluded the contest with nine points, five rebounds and six assists of the bench.

The Flames jumped out to an 8-2 lead early. Speaks started things off with a three-pointer. After a Panthers' bucket, Roberts followed up with a layup and a trey to put Liberty ahead by six. Georgia State then went on a 6-0 burst, courtesy of two Richardson free throws and a pair of buckets by Atkins. The spurt knotted the contest, 8-8, at 16:09.

The Flames regained the lead on a Marshall layup 38 ticks later. Liberty maintained the advantage until the 10:41 mark, when Hunter knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game again, this time at 18.
Three-pointers were the norm in the first half, as the Flames knocked down eight during the period. With

Liberty up by two, Marshall added to the advantage with a trey at 3:00. Marshall then gave the Flames an eight-point advantage 80 seconds later, sinking his third three-pointer of the half. After a Panthers' free throw, Sommy Ogukwe sank a layup with three seconds on the clock to give Liberty a 37-29 lead at halftime.

Liberty finished the first half shooting 44.0 percent (11-of-25) from the field, including 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from three-point land. Georgia State shot 40.0 percent from the field in the opening period, hitting 10-of-25 shots. Liberty entered the contest holding opponents to 26.4 percent from behind the three-point arc. Georgia State concluded the first half 2-of-9 (22.2 percent) from downtown.

Marshall led the Flames with 12 points in the opening period, followed by Speaks and Roberts, who had eight and seven tallies, respectively. Atkins paced the Panthers with nine points, while White chipped in eight.

Georgia State began the second half with a 9-0 run to hold a 38-37 lead at 16:42. A seesaw battle commenced, with three lead changes occurring over a next two minutes. With the Panthers leading by one, Marshall's fourth three-pointer of the game put the Flames ahead, 44-42, at 14:52.

Liberty remained in control until the clock struck 9:12, as an Atkins jumper gave Georgia State a one-point advantage. With the Panthers up by three at 6:47, Marshall's fifth trey of the game knotted the contest at 56.

The offensive pace slowed for both teams in the final minutes. Marshall's sixth three-pointer on the afternoon put Liberty ahead by five, 63-58, with 49 seconds left. A traditional three-point play by James Vincent cut the Liberty lead to two with 26 ticks remaining.

Forced to foul, the Panthers sent Marshall to the line. The junior sank both shots to give the Flames a four-point cushion. On their next trip down the court, the Panthers capitalized on another old fashion three-pointer. Hunter raced to the basket and was fouled on a dunk. He then made good on the foul shot to cut it to one with 18 seconds remaining. On the ensuing Liberty possession, Roberts was fouled and went 1-of-2 from the line. Georgia State received the ball with 13 seconds left and Richardson sank the game-winner with under three ticks remaining to pull out the 67-66 victory.

Liberty finished the contest shooting 43.8 percent (21-of-28) from the field and 50.0 percent (12-of-24) from the three-point arc. The Panthers shot 44.8 percent (26-of-58) and held to 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from long distance. Georgia State controlled the paint, outscoring the Flames, 32-12, inside. Despite the Panthers committing seven fewer turnovers, Liberty edged Georgia State in points off turnovers, 18-17.

Liberty returns to the Vines Center on Tuesday to host Southern Virginia. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.