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Flames Take Second Straight in Chicago, 63-60

November 28, 2009  Chicago, Ill.  RSS
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Chirs Perez posted 12 points and four rebounds in Liberty's 63-60 win over Tennessee State Saturday afternoon.

Chirs Perez posted 12 points and four rebounds in Liberty's 63-60 win over Tennessee State Saturday afternoon.

Fresh off a win against Mississippi Valley State on Friday, the Liberty men's basketball team concluded its stay in the Windy City, squaring off with Tennessee State. The Flames used a late offensive burst and then fended off a feverish charge from the Tigers, taking the game, 63-60, to round out play in the Chicago Invitational with a 2-2 record.

The Flames jumped out to an early 5-2 lead with baskets from Patrick Konan and Evan Gordon. The Tigers countered with a three-pointer to knot the contest at 18:14. Following a layup from Jesse Sanders, Tennessee State hit another trey to claim the lead. The Flames then went on a 6-0 spurt to go up 13-8. The Tigers would climb back over the next five minutes, outscoring the Flames 6-2 and trailed by one, 15-14, with 8:28 remaining in the half.

Liberty responded by tallying five-unanswered points to take a six-point advantage. After a Tigers' basket, Kyle Ohman hit three of four shots from the charity stripe to give the Flames its largest lead of the half at seven, 23-16, with 5:50 left on the clock. The Tigers countered once again, outscoring the Flames 10-3 in the closing minutes of the opening period, tying the game at 26-26 at halftime.

Ohman netted the Flames' last eleven points of the half to lead the way for Liberty at the midway point. Liberty shot 9-of-23 from the field (39.1 percent), while holding Tennessee State to 32.3 percent (10-of-31).

The Tigers struck quickly in the second half, posting six-straight points to take a 32-26 lead at 17:41. Two free throws by Konan trimmed the deficit to four, but Tennessee State responded with a trey to extend its advantage to seven. The Tigers' lead seesawed over the next nine and half minutes, as they were able to gain a 50-42 edge with 7:30 left on the clock.

Liberty then went on a 7-0 run off buckets from Ohman, Gordon and Chris Perez to cut the lead to one, 50-49, at 5:48. Following a Tigers' basket and a made free throw by Sanders, Ohman nailed a momentum shifting three-pointer to give the Flames a 53-52 lead with 3:23 remaining.

The Flames then scored six additional unanswered tallies, creating a seven-point gap at 1:20, 59-52. The Tigers hit a jumper to cut the lead to five just 12 seconds later. Ohman countered by hitting a shot at the charity stripe to increase the bulge to six, but Tennessee responded with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 60-57 in Liberty's favor with just 26 seconds left.

Three ticks later, Sanders hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it a two-possession game. Tennessee State's Jeremiah Crutcher closed the gap with a trey, making it 61-60 with eight seconds left. As time began to wind down, Gordon sunk two crucial shots at the foul line, securing the contest for the Flames 63-60. Liberty improves to 3-5 with the win, while Tennessee State falls to 1-5 on the season.

Ohman finished with 23 points and six rebounds, tying his season high in tallies. Perez posted 10 second half points, bringing his total to 12 for the afternoon. Konan rounded out Liberty's double-digit scorers, chipping in 11 points and five boards. The Flames improved on their shooting in the second half, hitting 8-of-18 from the field (44.4 percent) and finished the game shooting 41.5 percent (17-of-41).

The Flames return to the Vines Center on Thursday, hosting Charleston Southern to kick off a five-game home stretch. The match-up marks the first Big South Conference contest for the Flames this season after being selected to finish seventh in the Big South preseason poll. The Buccaneers enter their meeting with Flames predicted to finish ninth in the conference. Tip-off for Liberty's conference opener is set for 7 p.m.