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Flames Unable To Overcome First Half Shooting Woes In 10-Point Loss To Highlanders

January 7, 2006  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The Flames were held to 15.6 shooting in the first field half, while the Highlanders fended off two late attempted rallies to pick up a 60-50 Big South victory over Liberty, Saturday evening, in the Vines Center.

Both teams started the game red hot from the field as the two squads connected on the first five combined field goal attempts. Chris Oliver started the contest with a lay-up just 14 seconds into the contest, while Anthony Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas) answered back with a jumper 20 seconds later. After a lay-up by Whit Holcomb-Faye at the 19:08 mark, Smith scored back-to-back baskets to give the Flames a 6-4 lead at the 18:19 mark of the game.

However, the horse race came to a screaming halt as the final 18 minutes of the opening half saw the Flames go 2-29 from the field to end the half shooting 15.6 percent from the field, while Radford opened up a lead as much as 10 points before taking an eight-point lead into the break at halftime, 23-15.

Radford (8-6, 1-1 BSC) held the Flames to just one field over the last 13 minutes of the half on a putback by Doug Stewart (So., F, Sanford, N.C.), while Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte), who was coming off a career 38-point game on Tuesday, finished the half 0-of-10 with just two points from the charity stripe.

Despite the woeful first half, Liberty (4-9, 1-1 BSC) came out of the locker room at halftime and connected on three of its first four shots from the field and pulled within two points, 23-21, on a jumper by Blair at the 17:30 mark. But a dunk by Chris Oliver and a three-pointer by Andre Bynum on the next two possessions pushed the lead back to seven points just two minutes later.

The lead hovered around the same margin until Liberty reeled off a 9-1 run and tied the game at 35-35 on a pair of free throws by Blair at the 11:01 mark. The Highlanders answered back with six-unanswered points as Holcomb-Faye's pair of free throws gave Radford a 41-35 lead with 7:46 left to play.

The Flames attempted to mount one last charge in the game as a three-pointer by Smith pulled Liberty within one, 48-47, at the 2:47 mark, but Holcomb-Faye nailed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession and was fouled, connected on the free throw to give Radford a comfortable margin they would never relinquish.

"This is obviously a disappointing loss as we had a lot of good looks in the first half, but we couldn't knock them down," commented head coach Randy Dunton. "We are a very young team coming off an emotional win and we had letdown tonight."

"Radford is an experienced team that was able to expose us tonight and they took advantage. Conference victories demand a lot and we didn't come ready to play tonight."

Radford placed three players in double figures with Holcomb-Faye leading the way with 19 points. Oliver poured in 14 points and tied a career-high 15 rebounds, while Bynum added 13 points and a team-high four assists.

Blair was able to recover from his first half shooting woes and lead the Flames with 17 points, while Smith followed with 11 points. Damien Hubbard (Jr., F, Boyce, Va.) and Porter led the squad with seven rebounds.

The Flames will close out a three-game homestand on Tuesday when they host Marist in a non-conference battle in the Vines Center at 7 p.m., while Radford returns to action next Saturday when they host defending Big South champion Winthrop at the Dedmon Center Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest.