Joe Retic (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
The Liberty men's basketball team closed out 2014 on the road, kicking off the Big South slate at Campbell, Wednesday afternoon. In a contest that turned into a defensive affair, the Flames made it a three-point game after being down by 11 in the second half, but were unable to climb over the hump en route to the Fighting Camels' 53-46 win.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 6-8 on the year and 0-1 in the Big South. Campbell moves to 7-7, snapping a five-game skid versus the Flames. Liberty leads the all-time series, 13-11.
Joe Retic paced the Flames with 12 points, followed by Peter Moller, who had 10 tallies. Andrew Smith closed out the contest with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Campbell's Reco McCarter led the Camels with a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds.
Liberty shot 30.4 percent (17-of-56) for the contest, compared to 28.6 percent (14-of-49) for the Camels. The Flames outscored Campbell in the paint, 22-14, but the Camels held the advantage beyond the three-point arc, 21-6.
Campbell's first four field goals came from downtown, allowing the Camels to take a 14-9 lead at the 10:54 mark. Liberty outscored Campbell, 10-4, over the next nine minutes, receiving baskets from Retic and Evan Maxwell. A pair of Retic free throws put the Flames in the lead briefly. McCarter connected on a layup with 1:25 remaining in the half to send the Camels into the locker room with a 20-19 advantage.
Liberty took the lead in the second half thanks to back-to-back baskets by James Johnson. The Flames held the advantage until an Andrew Ryan three-pointer at 14:42 made it 27-25, Camels.
With the contest tied at 31 with 8:37 remaining, Campbell went on a 13-2 run over the next five minutes. Two free throws by D.J. Mason capped the burst to give the Camels a 44-33 lead at 4:16.
Liberty climbed back into the contest with a 12-4 surge. A Smith tip-in put the Flames within three, 48-45, with 1:24 to play. However, the Camels managed to hold off Liberty in the remaining seconds, hitting 5-of-6 free throws to close out the 53-46 final.
Liberty returns to the Vines Center on Saturday to host Presbyterian. Game time is slated for 7 p.m., with the contest broadcasting live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, MASN HD, ESPN3 and the Big South Network.