It has been five years since LibertyFlames.com has covered an international summer trip, but here we are again with the Liberty men's basketball team, this time visiting beautiful Costa Rica.
Despite delays resulting from a global shutdown of Delta Airlines' computer system, the team and the rest of the travel party made it safely to San Jose, Costa Rica around 8 p.m. local time Monday night. While the Flames were expected to arrive into the country about eight hours earlier, everyone was grateful to reach their final destination after an elongated day of traveling.
On Tuesday, the team relaxed at the hotel before eating a pregame meal in preparation for its first exhibition of the trip. A driving tour of San Jose was originally on the docket, but with a national transportation strike, the decision was made to recover from the previous day of travel and go for an optional leisurely swim by the pool instead.
Liberty vs. University of Ottawa Ottawa came out firing, going on a 17-2 run in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The Flames began to get into more of an offensive rhythm, but the Gee-Gees used sharp three-point shooting to hold a 25-11 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the second, Caleb Homesley wowed those in attendance, slamming down a highlight reel, one-handed jam and following up with a free throw to seal the three-point play. Despite the athletic basket from the sophomore, the Flames still trailed by 17 at halftime, 45-28.
Myo Baxter-Bell began to heat up at the beginning of the third quarter with a couple high percentage shots under the basket. Freshman guard Xzavier Barmore displayed his outside range with a three-pointer toward the end of the 10 minutes. Liberty managed to close the gap thanks to Barmore's trifecta, cutting the deficit to single digits before an Ottawa bucket made it an 11-point game at the end of the third, 55-44.
In the final period, freshman guard Jorge Pacheco-Ortiz found success inside, connecting on an acrobatic layup. The Flames climbed within seven points thanks to a Brock Gardner three-pointer, but could not get any closer en route to the 71-60 defeat.
Baxter-Bell led Liberty with 12 points, followed by Homesley and redshirt senior guard John Dawson, who each had 10 tallies. Dawson also had seven rebounds, while going 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 at the foul line. Ottawa played an impressive game, using its experience, size and three-point shooting to neutralize the youthful Flames.
Shout-outs Liberty's Director of Basketball Operations Chelsea Mangino deserves some props after navigating through such a hectic travel situation on Monday. Mangino remained calm through the whole process, putting her organizational prowess to the test. Gracias señorita!
Another MVP during the manic Monday was none other than head coach Ritchie McKay. After the Flames missed their original connection due to systems being shut down, McKay made sure everyone made it on the final flight of the day to Costa Rica, working tirelessly to pull off the feat with Delta's agents. Well done skipper!
As mentioned prior to the trip, two members of the Liberty Flames Sports Networks TV crew are on hand to provide video of our stay in Costa Rica. Matt Warner and Jonah Jabbour will be producing various features from the trip that will air on LFSN's Game On in the coming weeks. In the meantime, they will be providing LibertyFlames.com with brief recaps of each day. Thanks guys!
Weather Report Tuesday's weather featured cloudy skies with scattered showers and temperatures in the upper 60s. The area is beautiful, but a little sunshine always goes a long way. Betting our bottom dollar on it isn't necessary, but here's to hoping the sun will come out tomorrow.
Looking Ahead The Flames will depart the hotel around 10 a.m. local time to visit the Holy Spirit Orphanage, which features a homeless shelter, food bank, health center, small animal farm, clothing resource store and educational center. The team will then begin preparation for their second game of three, when they square off with the Costa Rican National Team at 7:30 p.m.
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