James Johnson (center) (Photo by Dalton Joyce)
The Liberty men's basketball team stepped into the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya looking to bounce back from a two-game skid, Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Flames, the North Florida Ospreys had other plans. Guided by a 20-point effort from point guard and leading scorer Dallas Moore, UNF jumped out to an early lead and did not look back en route to the 77-57 decision.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 2-3 on the year, while North Florida also moves to 2-3. For both teams, it was their forwards James Johnson and David Andoh led Liberty with a season-high 10 points apiece, followed by A.C. Reid, who had nine points on a trio of three-pointers.
Although Liberty came into the contest holding its opponents to 39.8 shooting, the Ospreys held close to their season average, finishing 46.7 percent from the floor (28-of-60). The Flames shot 40.8 percent (20-of-49) for the contest. UNF knocked down 12 three-pointers, compared to five for the Flames. The Ospreys also outscored Liberty North Florida started the game with an 8-0 run, until Johnson ended the hot streak with a layup at 16:40. UNF continued to pull away leading by 18 points, 33-15, at the 8:32 mark thanks to Jalen Nesbitt three-pointer.
The Flames began chipping away at the deficit, outscoring the Ospreys 10-1 during the final four minutes of the half. Liberty received baskets from Andrew Smith, Johnson and Andoh during the run. Smith cemented the period with a layup off his finger tips to pull the Flames within seven at halftime, 42-35.
Moore paced the Ospreys with 16 points at the half. Johnson led Liberty with seven tallies, followed by Smith (6) and Reid (6), who knocked down two three-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
Liberty shot 44.4 percent (12-of-27) during the opening stanza, compared to 44.1 percent (15-of-24) for the Ospreys. UNF outscored the Flames from three-point land, 15-9.
In the second half, Liberty made it a six-point game when Andoh knocked a down a jumper at 15:50. The Ospreys responded by outscoring the Flames, 13-4, over the next 7:20. An Aaron Bodager three-pointer put UNF ahead, 56- Liberty made it an 11-point contest with under seven minutes remaining courtesy of a Peter Moller jumper. However, the Flames would not climb any closer, as the Ospreys led by 24 in the closing minutes. A Calvin Hoffman three-pointer at the buzzer for Liberty gave way to the 77-57 final.
Liberty continues play tomorrow in Mayan Division of the Cancun Challenge, taking on Morgan State. The Bears fell to Elon earlier in the afternoon, 74-73, after leading the Phoenix by 19 with under eight minutes left. Tipoff for tomorrow's contest inside the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is slated for 1:30 p.m. Photos by Dalton Joyce