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Mountaineers Hold On To Down Flames At San Juan Shootout

December 20, 2005  Guaynabo, P.R.  RSS
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The Flames erased a 14-point second half deficit only to have the Mountaineers hold off a charging Liberty to pick up a 63-59 victory over the Flames, Tuesday afternoon, at the Mario Morales Coliseum in the second round of the San Juan Shootout.

After Gus Durr converted on 1-of-2 free throw attempts to tie the game at 4-4 just 2:37 into the contest, Liberty (2-7) reeled off seven-straight points as a three-pointer by Doug Stewart (So., F, Sanford, N.C.) gave the Flames an 11-4 edge just three minutes later.

Mount St. Mary's (2-7) tied the game at 16-16 after a jumper by Markus Mitchell and a three-pointer by Chris Sumner at the 8:16 mark. However, the Flames used a 7-1 run four minutes later to push their lead back to six points, 27-21, on a jumper by Damien Hubbard (Jr., F, Boyce, Va.) with 4:29 left to play.

But the Mountaineers scored six-straight points and tied the game on a fast-break lay-up by Mychal Kearse at the 2:32 mark, but the basket marked the last time that either team would score as the two squads headed into the locker room with the game tied a 27-27.

The game continued to remain close over the first several minutes of the second half as a jumper by Evan Risher (So., F, Fort Worth, Texas) gave the Flames a 34-33 lead with 15:33 left to play in the game.

But the Flames would go without a basket over a seven-minute stretch as Liberty's next bucket came on a Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) lay-up at the 8:27 mark, while the Mountaineers outscored the Flames 12-3 over the stretch to open up a double-digit lead as high as 14 points. However, Blair's basket started a 14-3 run by the Flames that allowed Liberty to tie the game at 54-54 at the 3:43 mark on lay-up by Anthony Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas).

One minute later, Durr converted on an old fashion three-point play to give the Mountaineers a three-point lead, while Blair trimmed it to one, 57-56, on a jumper with 2:24 left to play, but that would be as close as Liberty would get as Kearse was 4-of-4 from the line and Landy Thompson nailed a jumper to seal the victory.

"Their depth played a considerable factor in the outcome of the game, especially with us playing two games in less than 24 hours," stated head coach Randy Dunton. "The encouraging thing is that we fought back after getting down and we didn't quit."

"This was a disappointing game for the kids as we fought hard, but unfortunately we couldn't come out with a victory. We just need to continue to work hard and get better as a group."

Thompson came off the bench to lead all scorers as he netted 15 points that was aided by a 7-of-10 performance from the free throw line, while Kearse added 11 points and a team-high three steals.

The contest marked the first game of the season that Blair has not led the Flames in scoring as Hubbard recorded his second double-double of the year with a team-best 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Risher and Russell Monroe (So., C, Alma, Mich.) followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Blair was held to a season-low nine points as he was 3-of-11 from the field and 3-of-8 from the free throw line.

The Flames will conclude tournament action at the San Juan Shootout tomorrow morning as they square off against tournament host Puerto Rico – Mayaguez at 11 a.m. (AST) in the seventh place game.