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Second Half Run Moves Howard Past Liberty
Looking for its second straight win, the Liberty men's basketball team squared off with Howard, Saturday afternoon, inside Burr Gymnasium. After leading by seven at halftime, the Flames went eight-plus minutes without a field goal at the start of the second half, allowing the Bison to go on a 15-1 run en route to a 60-53 victory.
Liberty falls to 1-9 on the year, while Howard moves to 3-8, this season, and 1-2 in the all-time series after picking up its first-ever win over the Flames.
Davon Marshall led the Flames with 13 points, followed by Casey Roberts who chipped in 11. JR Coronado concluded the contest with 11 rebounds.
Mike Phillips led the Bison with a game-high 19 points. Calvin Thompson and Simuel Frazier added 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the home team.
Liberty jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, highlighted by five points from Marshall. The Bison responded with two straight baskets to make it a one point game at 16:05. After a Roberts layup put the Flames back up by three, a Frazier jumper cut it to one again, 9-8, at 15:37.
Center Joel Vander Pol took the court for the first time this season entering the contest at 11:06. Just 14 seconds of play into the contest, the redshirt junior blocked a shot attempt by Thompson. Twenty four seconds later, a three-pointer by Roberts put the Flames up by five, 17-12.
After an Alphonso Leary basket made it a three-point game just under the 10-minute mark, Liberty posted five unanswered points to take its largest lead of the contest. Following a Chad Donley three-pointer, John Caleb Sanders added a tip-in, making it 22-14 at 8:30.
The Bison made it a four-point game with four minutes left in the half, but could not climb any closer. A Gielo tip-in with 14 ticks on the clock allowed Liberty to carry a 32-25 lead in the locker room at halftime.
Liberty shot 44.4 percent (12-of-27) from the field in the first half, while the Bison shot 40.7 percent (11-of-27). Entering the contest averaging over seven three-pointers per game, Liberty shot 35.7 percent (5-of-14) from three-point land in the opening period. Living up to its billing as a top 20 team nationally in three-point field goal defense, Liberty held the Bison to 16.7 percent (1-of-6) from downtown.
Marshall and Gielo paced the Flames during the first half with eight points, apiece. Phillips led all scorers at halftime with 12 tallies.
Howard opened the second half with a 15-1 surge, holding the Flames scoreless from the field for the first 8:41. Coronado stopped the drought with a layup at 11:19. Roberts followed up with a three-pointer to pull Liberty within two of the Bison, 40-38, at 10:49.
Howard increased its advantage back to six with 7:10 on the clock. Marshall responded with a three-pointer at 6:48 to cut it to three, 46-43.
With the Bison holding a six-point lead with 1:57 remaining, the Flames answered with a five-point burst to make it a one-point game. Roberts hit his third three-pointer of the contest to chip the deficit to three. Sanders attempted to tie the game with 44 ticks left, hurling up a baseline three-point shot. The junior was fouled on the attempt and sank two of his three free throw attempts to cut the lead back to one.
Liberty was forced to foul in the remaining seconds. Howard made 6-of-8 free throws during the span to hang on for the 60-53 final.
The Flames shot 24.1 percent (7-of-29) from the field in the second half to finish the contest on 33.9 percent shooting (19-of-56). Howard shot 44.4 percent (12-of-27) in the latter period to conclude the matchup with 42.6 percent shooting (23-of-54) from the floor.
Despite the Flames outrebounding the Bison, 40-35, Howard controlled the paint offensively, outscoring Liberty inside, 32-12. The Flames shot 34.6 percent (9-of-26) from three-point range, while holding Howard to 12.5 percent shooting from downtown (1-of-8).
Liberty returns to action on Tuesday, when the Flames takes on Iona. The contest is a return meeting from the 2011 Sears BracketBusters matchup between the two squads. Game time in New Rochelle, N.Y., is slated for 7 p.m.