The Liberty men's basketball team hosted Longwood, Tuesday night, hoping to remain undefeated inside the Vines Center against the Lancers. Unfortunately for the Flames, solid shooting from the visitors allowed Longwood (8-20, 4-11 Big South) to pick up it's first-ever win over Liberty (7-21, 1-14 Big South) in the facility with a 78-72 win.
Longwood now leads the all-time series, 21-10. The Lancers pick up their first road win against the Flames since Feb. 8, 1988, when Liberty defeated Longwood in the Schilling Center, 61-53. The Flames are now 5-1 inside the Vines Center all-time against the Lancers.
Andrew Smith led the Flames with a career-high 21 points, becoming the fifth Liberty player to score 20 or more points, this season. Smith also had 12 rebounds to accompany his point total. Theo Johnson followed up with 17 points.
Leron Fisher paced the Lancers with a game-high 24 points, followed by Shaquille Johnson (18) and Quincy Taylor (14).
Longwood shot 49.0 percent (25-of-21), while the Flames shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56). The Lancers hit 10 treys on the night compared to four for Liberty. The Flames edged Longwood in the paint, 34-26.
Liberty briefly led, 4-3, in the opening half, but the Lancers soon took command of the lead. Longwood displayed their three-point game early, which A.C. Red tried to match with a pair of treys. A highlight reel dunk by Shaquille Johnson put the visitors up 20-12 at the 12:02 mark.
Longwood led by 12 with 4:46 left, but Smith connected on back-to-back buckets to pull the Flames within eight at 3:22. The Lancers closed out the half with five unanswered points, including a Kanayo Obi-Rapu three-pointer to take a 39-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Fisher led all players at the half with 12 points. Smith paced Liberty with 10 tallies and eight rebounds.
Longwood shot 50.0 percent (13-of-26) from the field in the opening stanza, compared to 32.1 percent (9-of-28) for the Flames. The Lancers capitalized from three-point range, outscoring Liberty, 21-6. Longwood also converted the Flames' eight turnovers into 10 points.
In the second half, Longwood led by as much as 20 after a Fisher layup with 10:08 left to play. The Flames then began to chip away at the deficit with a 14-4 run over the next 5:02. A pair of Ethan Layer free throws made it a 10-point game, 64-54, with 5:06 left.
Liberty made it a seven-point game with 18 ticks left thanks to a Jordan Dembley layup, but were unable to climb any closer.
The Flames hit the road for their final road contest of the season versus Gardner-Webb, Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.