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Liberty Moves Past Southern Virginia, Tuesday
The Liberty men's basketball team ended an eight-game skid, Tuesday night in the Vines Center, defeating Southern Virginia, 76-51. The Knights attempted to hang with the Flames in the early going, but a couple of offensive surges in the second half allowed Liberty to pull away for its first victory of the season.
With the win, Liberty moves to 1-8 on the year, while the Knights fall to 4-2.
John Caleb Sanders paced the Flames with 14 points. Andrew Smith finished with a career-high 10 points, while Tomasz Gielo also chipped in 10 tallies. Three players posted eight points – Casey Robersts, Tavares Speaks and Chad Donley. Sommy Ogukwe closed out the contest with a career-high seven points and nine rebounds.
Issac Jacobson finished with a game-high 16 points for the Knights, followed by Payton Brooks, who added 11 markers.
Liberty's first three field goals all came from behind the three-point arc, giving the home team a 9-6 advantage at 13:33. The Knights took the lead at 11:51 with a three-pointer by Payton Brooks. The Flames countered with an Ogukwe layup, a Chad Donley trey and a thunderous dunk by Andrew Smith, creating a six-point bulge, 18-12, with 9:18 on the clock.
The Flames continued to find nylon from downtown, with Donley and Kelly Assinesi each connecting on three-pointers. A Gielo tip-in at 3:10 gave the Flames an 11-point lead. The Knights got within seven tallies of the home team in the remaining minutes of the half, but Liberty pulled away thanks to a Smith layup and free throws by Sanders and Ogukwe to take a 36-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Liberty concluded the first half shooting 50.0 percent (13-of-26) from the field, including 6-of-10 (60.0 percent) from three-point land. Southern Virginia shot 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from the field. The Knights displayed a knack for grabbing boards, outrebounding the Flames, 21-14, in the opening 20 minutes. Liberty received support from its reserves, outscoring Southern Virginia, 22-12, off the bench.
Casey Nye paced the Knights in the first half with seven points, followed by Jacobson, who had six. Sanders and Donley each led the Flames with six points, apiece.
Southern Virginia opened the second half with five straight points to cut its deficit to six in the first two minutes. Liberty responded with a 9-2 burst, highlighted by baskets from Speaks, Roberts, Ogukwe and Smith. The surge gave the Flames a 47-32 lead at the 16:41 mark.
The Knights climbed within 10 points of Liberty with 8:29 remaining, courtesy of a Jonathan Jacobson jumper. The Flames then went on a 14-2 run over the next 3:27. Gielo capped the burst off with a jumper to make it 68-46.
Liberty took its largest lead of the contest with 2:15 left, when Assinesi knocked down a jumper to bolster the Flames margin to 27. Southern Virginia could not climb any closer than 24 tallies down the stretch, ultimately leading to the 76-51 final.
The Flames shot 57.4 percent (27-of-47) in the contest, while holding the Knights to 33.3 percent. Liberty also shot 50.0 percent (7-of-14) from three-point land compared to Southern Virginia's 19.2 percent (5-of-26). The Flames also finished the night with a season-high 44 points of the bench.
Liberty will take an 11-day break from game action before taking on Howard in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 15. Tipoff in the nation's capital is slated for 4 p.m.