Liberty men's basketball pulled off its first Division I non-conference road win since Dec. 31, 2012 with an impressive 79-66 win against Wake Forest ,Tuesday night, inside Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Liberty's victory over the Deacons was the Big South's first win over an ACC opponent since the 2014-15 season and first win over Wake Forest since the 2010-11 season.
Lovell Cabbil led the way with 22 points along with seven rebounds, four steals, three blocks and an assist. Leading the game with 14 rebounds was Scottie James, while Liberty shot 49 percent from the field (25-of-51) and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-21).
"We are proud of our guys and the way they played tonight," head coach Ritchie McKay said. "We knew Wake Forest was good and there were times our guys could've caved into the pressure, but they made big play after big play. Whether it was rebounding or taking a charge, our guys did a tremendous job tonight."
Despite having the size disadvantage in the paint, Liberty outrebounded the Deacons 39-28 throughout the game. While the Flames nailed nine three-pointers for the game, the defense was able to limit Wake Forest to 11.8 percent from three-point range for the game making just two shots from beyond the arc (2-of-17).
"We just had a sense of belief from the start," Cabbil said. "On paper it may have said we didn't have a good shot of winning but we have a sense of belief in one another. From the first man to the last man we believe in each other and I was so proud of my guys."
After four turnovers by the first media timeout of the game, Liberty settled down and got into a rhythm on offense as back-to-back buckets by the Flames gave them an 8-6 lead at the 14:44 mark. Leading the charge on offense was Cabbil with 10 points in the first eight minutes of action, helping Liberty build a 14-10 lead with 11:39 left in the first half. While Cabbil was heating up on offense for the Flames, Doral Moore was controlling the paint for Wake Forest with eight points all within the paint.
Coming off the bench to make an impact in the frontcourt for the Flames was James who pulled down six rebounds with two boards on offense. In addition to crashing the glass, James added seven points in the first half. Liberty's offense started to pick up at the end of the first half, going on a 10-0 run to take a 34-25 lead to end the half.
Both teams were exceptional on the defensive end, forcing turnovers as Liberty forced seven turnovers and committed nine themselves. Liberty did a good job of protecting the three-point line in the first limiting the Deacons to 1-of-9 in the first half from beyond the arc.
Wake Forest came out in the second looking to close Liberty's lead and came within three points (41-38) at the first media time out (15:46) of the second half after going on a 9-0 run.
The Flames countered with a run of their own, going a 10-0 spurt and holding Wake Forest scoreless just over five minutes. Ryan Kemrite got hot from beyond the arc in the second half making two clutch three-pointers, including one at the 6:33 mark to put Liberty up 59-47.
Every time Wake Forest looked to shrink the lead, Liberty countered with clutch shooting from the free throw line, shooting 85 percent (17-of-20) from the charity stripe in the second half to seal the win.
Liberty will now return home to host the Paradise Jam this weekend at the Vines Center. The tournament will begin on Friday, Nov. 17, as Liberty kicks off the tournament at 12 p.m. against Mercer. All gate proceeds for the tournament will go the hurricane relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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