John Brown posted his ninth double-double of the season on Thursday, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds in Liberty's 66-60 win at High Point.
The Liberty men's basketball team endured another test on the road, Thursday night, to continue its strong start in conference play. Tied at 50 with High Point in front of a raucous Millis Center crowd, John Brown helped the Flames pull away with six straight points en route to a 66-60 decision. The win allows Liberty to improve to 12-7 on the season and 6-1 in conference play. High Point suffers its seventh straight defeat, falling to 5-10 overall and 2-4 in the Big South. With both teams unable to find the net in the opening three minutes, Jesse Sanders finally put the Flames on the board at 16:57 with a free throw. Following two more charity stripe tallies from Joel Vander Pol, Sanders capped off a 5-0 Liberty start, converting a pass by Brown into a layup underneath. High Point cut the deficit to three with a Corey Law jumper, but the Flames responded on the other end, as David Minaya drained a three-pointer to make it 8-2 at 14:15. The Panthers made it a three-point game again with a Law free throw and a Shay Shine layup. However, Liberty answered with four straight points off a Sommy Ogukwe layup and a Minaya jumper, extending the lead to 12-5, at 12:03. With Liberty holding a five-point advantage at the 10:21 mark, the Flames distanced themselves from the Panthers with back-to-back dunks from Ogukwe and John Brown to take a 20-11 advantage at 9:11. Following Brown's rim rocker, Liberty proceeded to go on a near six-minute scoring drought. During the span, the Panthers reeled off seven points, cementing the run with a Law layup. Brown ended the dry spell for the Flames, sinking a jumper to make it 22-18 with 3:23 remaining. The Flames bounced back from the scoreless stretch, outpointing the Panthers, 10-6, in the remaining minutes to take a 32-25 lead into the locker room at halftime. Sanders led all scorers with 11 points at the end of the first stanza. Brown proved solid on the boards in the opening period, pulling down seven rebounds. Law and Cox paced the Panthers at the half with eight points apiece. Liberty shot 50.0 percent from the field, hitting 11-of-22 shots, while High Point went 9-for-27 (33.3 percent) in the first half. The Flames' reserves played a factor in the period, outscoring High Point's bench, 10-1. In the second half, the Panthers pounced first, cutting the deficit to five off a layup by Law. The Flames countered at the other end following a High Point foul. With Sanders inbounding the ball, the floor general floated a pass to Vander Pol, who was positioned underneath the basket for the tip-in. The center's bucket made it 34-27 at 17:19. The Panthers responded over the next 1:54 with six-straight points, including a Nick Barbour trey, cutting it to one at 15:25, 34-33. Following the spurt, Liberty answered with a four points off baskets from Evan Gordon and Brown. Barbour then cut it three with a layup, but Minaya reclaimed the five-point edge for the Flames, knocking down a jumper to put Liberty up, 40-35, at 12:41. High Point erased the deficit over the next 2:08, courtesy of a Justin Cheek layup and three-consecutive free throws by Barbour. The guard's trio of foul line shots knotted the contest, 40-40, with 10:33 remaining in the contest. After both teams went scoreless in the ensuing 2:09, Vander Pol netted a basket to put the Flames back on top at 8:24. Brown followed up the center's effort with a layup to make it 44-40. With under six minutes to play, Shine cut the Panthers' deficit to one with a trey. Burrus then answered with a jumper to put the Flames back up by three. Following two Shine free throws, Du'Vaughn Maxwell gave High Point its first and only lead of the game, 47-46, at 4:37, with a tip-in. Liberty reclaimed the lead with a Gordon jumper. Sanders then added a layup to give the Flames a three-point advantage. Once again, Barbour tied the contest, this time hitting a trey to knot it at 50 with 3:30 remaining. Brown emerged as the Flames' hero in the final minutes, scoring six unanswered points to put Liberty up, 56-50 with 1:46 left. The Panthers cut it to three thanks to a traditional three-point play by Barbour, but failed to climb any closer. The contest soon turned into a free throw affair, with Liberty hanging for the 66-60 final. Barbour led all scorers with 21 points. Three Flames finished in double scoring figures – Brown (14), Sanders (13) and Minaya (12). Brown secured his third-straight double-double and ninth of the season, pulling down 10 rebounds to go along with his point total. Liberty finished the game shooting 48.1 percent from the field, hitting 25-of-52 shots. The Flames' defense held the Panthers to 35.7 percent (20-of-56). High Point remains in the Millis Center on Saturday to play host to VMI. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The Flames head to Radford, Va., Saturday, to take on the Radford Highlanders. Liberty is looking for its third straight win inside the Dedmon Center. The contest is slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff and will air live on the Flames Sports Network.