The Liberty men's basketball team continued play in the American Sports Network Challenge in Music City, Friday afternoon, taking on Western Michigan. Despite Liberty hitting 12 three-pointers on the day, the Broncos used their size to pull away late and garner the 68-58 win.
Sophomore guard Ryan Kemrite led the Flames with 15 points, followed by freshman guard Caleb Homesley (11), redshirt freshman forward Ezra Talbert (11) and freshman guard Lovell Cabbil (10). Homesley set a career high with his 11 tallies, surpassing his previous personal best of six with a trio of three-pointers before the game's first media timeout.
Western Michigan's Haymond Tucker led all scorers with 16 points. Anthony Avery, Jr., had 14 points, while Kellen McCormick finished with 12.
The Broncos capitalized on close range baskets throughout the afternoon, shooting 51.0 percent (26-of-51) for the contest and outscoring Liberty 40-10 in the paint. Western Michigan's size allowed the Broncos to outrebound the Flames, 34-19.
Liberty relied heavily on the three-pointer, shooting 38.7 percent (12-of-31) from long distance and 41.9 percent (18-of-43) overall for the matchup.
Western Michigan led by three early until Homesley displayed a hot hand. The Indian Trail, N.C., native buried his first three-pointer of the contest to tie the ball game at 16:42. Liberty followed up with back-to-back defensive stops, picking the pocket of the Broncos both times to set up Homesley for two more treys. Homesley's trio of trifectas over a 58-second span gave the Flames an 11-5 lead at 15:40.
The Broncos responded with a 15-4 run over the next 6:20. Western Michigan's McCormick capped the burst with a three-pointer with 9:20 remaining in the period, putting the Broncos ahead, 20-15.
Neither team garnered a field goal over the ensuing 3:18. Liberty cut the deficit to two thanks to three free throws from Cabbil at 6:17. The Broncos outscored the Flames 13-7 during the remainder of the period to hold a 33-25 lead at halftime.
Avery, Jr., led all scorers at the half with 10 points. Homesley's nine points paced the Flames' offense at the intermission. Talbert also had a pair of three-pointers in the opening period to finish with six tallies.
Western Michigan shot 48.1 (13-of-27) percent from the field before halftime, compared to 34.8 percent (8-of-23) for Liberty. The Broncos took advantage of high percentage shots, outscoring the Flames in the paint, 20-6. Despite Homesley and Talbert shooting perfectly from three-point land in the first 20 minutes, the Flames closed out the period with a 31.3 percent three-point shooting percentage (5-of-16).
The Broncos began the second period with back-to-buckets to extend their lead to 12. Liberty then proceeded to outscore Western Michigan 11-2 over a 2:24 span, thanks in part to a pair of treys from Kemrite and one by Talbert. Cabbil cemented an 8-0 burst with two free throws to make it 39-36 at 16:16.
The roller coaster trend continued with Western Michigan reclaiming a nine-point lead with 12:06 remaining. Liberty utilized another scoring surge, outpointing the Broncos 11-4 during the next 4:50. Kemrite highlighted the burst with two three-pointers, while Cabbil added one. Kemrite's fourth trey of the contest put Liberty within two, 51-49, at 7:16.
Western Michigan used high percentage shots and free throws to bolster its advantage back to 10 with 4:18 left on the clock. The Broncos took their largest lead of the contest (14) at the 2:30 mark. The Flames ended the afternoon with a dunk by Talbert and a Kemrite layup to set up the 68-58 final.
Liberty concludes its stay at the Challenge in Music City on Sunday, squaring off with Tulane. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. EST, with the contest broadcasting live on ASN.