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Flames Victorious In Pressure Cooker

January 26, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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TeeJay Bannister looks for Alex McLean on the block during the Flames' win over High Point on Saturday.

TeeJay Bannister looks for Alex McLean on the block during the Flames' win over High Point on Saturday.

Alex McLean's two free throws with 20.7 seconds left lifted the Liberty Flames over the High Point Panthers, 55-51, in Big South Conference men's basketball action, Saturday night, inside the Vines Center.

The win pushed Liberty's record to 11-9 and 3-2 in Big South Conference action. High Point falls to 10-9 and 2-3 in Big South Conference play.

The triumph helped Liberty sweep its three-game homestand and moved the Flames to 10-0 inside the Vines Center this year.

Liberty opened up the game on an 11-2 run, going into the second media timeout at 11:14. TeeJay Bannister started the scoring with a layup at 19:28. Bannister was fouled on the play by Earnest Bridges, and sank the ensuing free throw.

Alex McLean scored four of the Flames' next seven points, staking Liberty to a 9-0 lead at 16:38. Arizona Reid cut the run with a bucket in the paint for High Point at 14:35, marking the Panthers' first field goal of the game.

High Point cut Liberty's lead to four points, 13-9, via a 7-2 spurt capped by a Mike Jefferson bucket at 7:28. The Panthers then trimmed the Flames' lead to three, 15-12, after a Eugene Harris three-point basket at 6:27.

The Flames countered with a 7-0 burst, extending its lead to 22-12, courtesy of two Bannister layups and a Jenkins three-point bucket at 4:08.

High Point then closed out the half on a 13-3 surge, tying the game at 25 apiece going into the intermission. Reid tallied six-straight Panthers markers going into the break.

Liberty shot 40 percent (10-of-25) from the floor in the first period, including 37.4 percent (3-of-8) from three-point range.

The Panthers were right behind Liberty, hitting 37.5 percent (9-of-24) from the floor, including 30.0 percent (3-of-10) from three-point range.

Reid scored a fadeaway jumper at 19:39 to open up the second half, staking High Point to its first lead of the game, 27-25. McLean answered back for Liberty on the Flames' next possession, tallying a bucket, tying the game at 27 with 19:03 remaining.

Bannister fouled Harris on a three-point attempt at 18:42. Harris sank all three attempts from the charity stripe, posting his team to a 30-27 advantage. But Bannister tied the game up the next time down the floor, 30-30, with a three-point field goal at 18:12.

Liberty then jumped out to a 41-34 advantage, courtesy of an 11-4 jaunt, capped by a Jeremy Anderson three-point bucket from the corner at 11:44.

The Flames extended its lead to 44-36 via an Anthony Smith bucket off his own miss at 8:21. High Point then reeled off eight-straight points, tying the game at 44 when Jefferson drained a three-point bucket at 6:38.

Anderson helped Liberty retake the lead, 47-44, when his three-point bucket hit the bottom of the net as the shot clock expired at 6:00.

A Dave Campbell three-point bucket tied the game at 47 with 4:27 remaining, before Reid gave High Point the lead, 49-47, with 3:35 left in the game.

A B.J. Jenkins three-point basket from the top of the key put Liberty up by one point, 50-49, with 2:26 remaining in the contest. After a Harris miss, Reid fouled McLean on Liberty's ensuing possession. Liberty was in the bonus, sending McLean to the line to shoot the one-and-one. McLean sank 1-of-2, giving the Flames a narrow two-point lead, 51-49, with 1:44 left.

McLean then returned the favor to Reid, fouling the Preseason Big South Player of the Year, sending him to the line to shoot a one-and-one. Reid hit both free throw attempts, tying the game at 51, with 45.8 seconds remaining.

On Liberty's next trip down the court, McLean was fouled while rebounding a Jenkins miss, sending the Liberty senior to the line with 20.7 seconds left. McLean sank both attempts from the charity stripe, giving the Flames the lead, 53-51.

High Point went down the court, looking for Reid, who was heavily covered. Jefferson dumped a pass to Cruz Daniels, who lost the handle and dropped the ball out of bounds, giving possession to Liberty with four seconds left.

After a High Point timeout, Bannister tossed a baseball pass to a streaking Jenkins who layed it in, solidifying the Liberty victory, 55-51, with 2.0 seconds remaining.

Liberty who came into the game shooting 53.2 percent inside the Vines Center this year, won despite shooting a home season-low 38.0 percent (19-of-50). The Flames hit 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from three-point range.

McLean collected his eighth double-double of the season, the 20th of his career and his third in three career games against High Point. McLean finished with a team-high 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Jenkins tallied 11 points while Bannister finished with 10 points and four assists in the win.

High Point finished hitting 36.0 percent (18-of-50) from the floor and 21.7 percent (5-of-23) from three-point range.

Reid led all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, while Jefferson chipped in 13 points and six assists in a losing cause. Harris added eight points for the Panthers.

Liberty returns to action on Monday, when the Flames travel to Lexington, Va., to take on the VMI Keydets. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. High Point stays in the Commonwealth, facing Radford on Monday. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.