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Flames Best the Delta Devils, 72-53

November 27, 2009  Chicago, Ill.  RSS
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Evan Gordon posted 14 points and four baords in Liberty's 72-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State Friday at the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

Evan Gordon posted 14 points and four baords in Liberty's 72-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State Friday at the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

After dropping its first two contests in the Chicago Invitational Challenge to Notre Dame and Northwestern, the Liberty men's basketball team added one to the win column with a 72-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State, Friday afternoon at the UIC Pavilion.

The Flames took the opening tip and capitalized immediately with five-straight points courtesy of a Kyle Ohman trey and a jumper by Evan Gordon. Following a Delta Devils three-pointer, Ohman found nylon again at 17:37, giving the Flames an early 7-3 advantage. Mississippi Valley State then answered with another basket from behind the arc to trim Liberty's lead to one at 16:43.

The Flames outscored the Delta Devils over the next two minutes and 22 seconds to go up 13-7. Mississippi Valley State did not stay down long, going on a 7-0 run to take a 15-13 advantage at 12:23. The streak ended 39 seconds later, when Chris Perez found fellow Florida native David Minaya on the baseline. Minaya proceeded to drive toward the basket for a layup, knotting the contest at 15. Perez followed up with a layup of his own with 10:10 remaining in the period to regain the lead for the Flames.

The Delta Devils tied the contest again 25 seconds later when Shannon Behling laid it in to make it 17-17. Liberty took a three-point edge at 8:01, but the advantage was short-lived as Mississippi Valley State responded with nine unanswered points to take a 26-20 lead with 5:21 remaining in the half. Ohman netted two shots at the charity stripe to trim the deficit to four, but the Delta Devils answered with a jumper to maintain the six-point lead.

The Flames then received an offensive burst from Patrick Konan, who scored eight-straight points to give Liberty a 30-28 lead with 2:44 left on the clock. Liberty closed out the half with four more tallies, including a Jesse Sanders layup at the buzzer to carry a 34-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

Konan's late first half surge made him the game's leading scorer at the half with 12 points, followed by Ohman who chipped in nine points and four rebounds. The Flames hit 13-31 (41.9 percent) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, holding the Delta Devils to 38.5 percent.

The second half began with a flurry of three-pointers, kicked off by Gordon. The Delta Devils answered at the other end, followed by a trey from Sanders. Mississippi Valley State capped off the behind-the-arc frenzy to make it 40-34 at 17:56. A jumper by Carter McMasters gave Liberty an eight-point advantage, but the Delta Devils answered with 6-0 run to pull within two. The Flames prevented Mississippi Valley State from getting any closer, as they went on 13-0 run to take a 55-40 lead with 12:04 left on the game clock.

Mark Holmes broke the Delta Devils' scoring drought with a three-pointer just under a minute later. Baskets by Ohman and McMasters gave the Flames a 16-point bulge with 8:27 remaining. Mississippi Valley State looked to close the gap, racking up seven-straight points to cut the deficit to nine with 5:56 left.

The Flames regained a double-digit lead with two free throws from Ohman. The Delta Devils then posted a three-pointer, to make it 65-53 at 5:25. The trey would be the last points by the opposing team, as the Flames went on an 11-0 tear in the closing minutes to seal the contest, 72-53. The victory snaps a four-game losing skid for Liberty, making it 2-5 on the season. Mississippi Valley State falls to 1-5.

Konan recorded a near double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Gordon tallied 10 second half points, bringing his total up to 14 at contest's end. Ohman finished out the afternoon with 12 points and four rebounds. The Flames improved on their shooting in the latter period, hitting 12-26 from the floor (46.2 percent), while holding the Delta Devils to 28.6 percent (8-28 shooting).

The Flames will now close out their stay in the Windy City with one final contest against Tennessee State. The Tigers are now 1-4 after defeating the Kennesaw State Owls 73-67 in the early afternoon contest Friday. Tip-off for Saturday's contest is slated for 3 p.m.