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Camels Edge Flames in Big South Opener

December 31, 2014  Buies Creek, N.C.  RSS
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Joe Retic (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

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.