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Liberty Tops Coker in Classic Opener, 88-66

November 28, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jesse Sanders got things started for the Flames on Friday.  Sanders tallied 11 first half points in the Liberty victory.

Jesse Sanders got things started for the Flames on Friday. Sanders tallied 11 first half points in the Liberty victory.

The Liberty Flames (3-1) used 22 points and eight rebounds from Seth Curry to cruise to an 88-66 win over the Coker Cobras (3-3) in the opening game of the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic, Friday night, inside the Vines Center.

Coker struck early, staking themselves to a quick 5-2 advantage via a trey by Lukas Varga at 19:25, followed by a Josh Poston jumper at 17:41. Kyle Ohman tied the game at five all on his three-point bucket at 17:23.

Ohman's three-pointer sparked the Flames, as Liberty went on a 20-5 run, which was capped by a Jesse Sanders bucket on an Anthony Smith pass at the 11:04 mark. Sanders got things started and was perfect from the field, tallying nine of the 20 points during the run to give the Flames the 25-10 lead.

The Cobras narrowed the deficit to 12 points, 30-18, via an 8-5 run which was finished off by a Stevie Evans bucket at 8:43.

From that point Liberty took over, pushing its lead to 21 points, 48-27, by the half. During the run, six different Flames scored, including three-point buckets by Ohman and Curry. The trey by Curry came with 44 seconds left in the half, capping the 18-9 run.

Despite missing its first three shots of the game, Liberty went on to shoot 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the floor in the opening period, including 50 percent from three-point range. Sanders tallied a half-high 11 points, equaling his season total to date.

Coker was successful on 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the floor, including 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from beyond the arc.

Liberty pushed its advantage up to 25 points, 60-35, scoring 12 of the first 20 points coming out of the intermission. Back-to-back three-point buckets by Curry and Ohman capped the run at 14:06.

An 18-10 spurt by the Cobras brought the Liberty advantage down to 13 points, 70-57, capped by an Evans three-pointer from the corner at 7:49. But that would be as close as Coker would get, as Liberty quickly went on a 10-0 run, completed by a Curry trey at 5:39. Curry scored five of 10 points during run, extending the Liberty lead to 23 points, 80-57 at the 4:56 mark.

Liberty maintained its advantage over the closing five minutes, closing out the game with the 22-point victory.

The Flames finished the contest connecting on 62.0 percent (31-of-50) of its shots from the floor, including 50 percent (10-of-20) from three-point range.

Curry paced the Flames with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Curry also contributed with a career and game-high eight rebounds. Smith added 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Sanders added a career-high 15 rebounds and was 7-of-8 from the field. Ohman rounded out the top Liberty scorers with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Coker ended the contest shooting 39.3 percent (24-of-61) from the floor, including 30.3 percent (10-of-33) from three-point range.

The Cobras were paced by Poston's 13 points, while Evans added 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting. J.C. Hafner chipped in 11 points in the losing cause.

Liberty returns to action tomorrow night at 8:15 p.m. in the championship game of the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. Liberty will play William & Mary, who defeated South Carolina State, 74-63, during the nightcap on Friday night.