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McLean and Smith Pace Liberty in Victory

November 27, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Alex McLean led Liberty with 33 points and 11 rebounds. The Flames defeated Longwood 91-67 on Tuesday night.

Alex McLean led Liberty with 33 points and 11 rebounds. The Flames defeated Longwood 91-67 on Tuesday night.

After starting the season with five of its first six contests away from the friendly confines of the Vines Center, Liberty fired on all cylinders in the Flames first home game in two weeks, cruising to a 91-67 victory over the Longwood Lancers Tuesday night.

With the win, Liberty pushes its record to 3-4 on the season, while Longwood falls to 2-6.

From the opening tip, Liberty controlled the contest. Alex McLean scored nine points in the first four minutes helping the Flames spring to an early 14-2 advantage. A TeeJay Bannister three-point bucket just 4:07 into the contest capped the opening scoring burst.

Anthony Smith scored 11-straight points for the Flames, increasing the Liberty lead to 25-10, with 11:06 remaining in the opening stanza.

Longwood cut the lead down to nine, courtesy of a 10-4 run, finished by a made free throw by Ryan Bogan, with 7:50 left in the first half.

The Flames responded with a 12-2 spurt of their own to push their lead to 20 points, their largest of the opening stanza at 42-22, with 3:05 remaining.

Over the half's final three minutes, Longwood was only able to cut the Flames' advantage by a point to 46-27 at the break.

The Flames enjoyed an outstanding touch from the floor in the period, hitting 55.2 percent from the floor on 16-of-29 shooting. Liberty was even better from behind the arc, connecting on 63.6 percent (7-of-11).

Meanwhile, Longwood got off to a slow start by hitting only one of their first 10 shots. The Lancers finished the half shooting 34.4 percent on 11-of-32 shooting.

The Flames started the second half by outscoring the Lancers, 17-9. McLean capped the surge by hitting the second of two foul shots on a trip to the charity strip with 13:53 left to up the Liberty lead to 63-36.

The Flames continued to control the game, reaching its biggest lead of the game, 35, on a three-point bucket by Kyle Ohman with 5:47 remaining to make it, 85-50.

After Bogan connected on two free throws, Nathan Campbell connected on his first shot of the season, collecting his first collegiate points with 5:04 left in the game, pushing the lead back to 35 at 87-52.

During the game's final five minutes, Longwood held a 15-4 scoring advantage, but it wasn't enough in a 91-67 Flames' victory.

Liberty improved upon its outstanding first half shooting by hitting 60.7 percent of its shots in the second half to finish the contest at 57.9 percent (33-of-57). Longwood matched the Flames' outstanding shooting in the second half by connecting on 50 percent (11-of-22) of its shots to finish the game at 40.7 percent (22-of-54).

McLean paced Liberty with his third double-double of the year and 15th of his career. The senior scored 33 points and grabbed 11 caroms, both game highs. McLean's scoring performance was his best since scoring a career-high 40 points at VMI on Feb. 21, 2007.

Smith tied a career-high with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Not only did his seven made three-point field goals set a new career best, but it also matched a Vines Center record for made three-point field goals. Smith matched former teammate Larry Blair, who set the mark when he made seven against High Point on March 6, 2004. Smith also collected his 700th career point.

Ohman chipped in 11 points, while Bannister dished out a season-high 11 assists in 18 minutes of action, one assist short of a Vines Center record.

Longwood had three players in double figures, led by Billy Robinson, Jr.'s 18 points and nine rebounds off the Lancers' bench. Kirk Williams tallied 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Bogan chipped in 12 markers.

Liberty is back in action on Saturday when the Niagara Purple Eagles invade the Vines Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.

Ritchie McKay's Quotes
"We did a nice job of playing together tonight. Longwood is a much better team than what they showed tonight. We got confident early and we used that to our advantage."