The Liberty men's basketball team concluded its stay at the Challenge in Music City, Sunday afternoon, squaring off with Tulane inside the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. Despite the Flames jumping out to an early lead in the first period, the Green Wave took advantage of Liberty's 19 turnovers to earn the 72-51 victory.
With the defeat in its first-ever meeting with Tulane, Liberty falls to 3-4 on the season, closing out its stay in the country music capital with a 0-3 mark. The Green Wave improves to 4-3 in 2015, closing out their stay in Nashville with a 2-1 record.
Evan Maxwell and Ezra Talbert led the Flames with 12 points apiece. Maxwell also had six boards on the afternoon, earning all-tournament honors for his string of performances during the event.
Tulane center Jernard Jarreau concluded the contest with a game-high 15 points, followed by Kain Harris (13) and Melvin Frazier (11).
The Green Wave capitalized on Liberty's turnovers, outscoring the Flames, 29-4, off miscues.
Liberty concluded the matchup shooting 39.0 percent from the floor (16-of-41). Although the Flames shot 50.0 percent from the field during the first half (11-of-22), Tulane silenced the Liberty offense in the second, holding Ritchie McKay's squad to 26.3 percent (5-of-19) in the second half.
Tulane shot 49.1 percent (26-of-53) in the contest, outscoring the Flames on points in the paint (34-14), fast break points (10-0) and bench points (26-17).
The contest began as a battle between the big men in the early minutes, with Maxwell and Jarreau posting six and four points, respectively. Following Jarraeu's second bucket, Liberty answered with a Talbert jumper and a Ryan Kemrite three-pointer to take an 11-4 lead at 14:43.
The Green Wave climbed back into the matchup, tying the ball game at 13-13 on the strength of a 9-2 run. Liberty prevented Tulane from claiming the lead in the ensuing minutes thanks in part to three-pointers from Kemrite and Caleb Homesley. After three ties, the Green Wave took its first lead of the game at 8:13 with a Malik Morgan tip-in to make it 21-19.
Tulane distanced itself from the Flames, outscoring Liberty 16-8 during the remainder of the period. The Green Wave took its largest lead of the period (11), with a Morgan layup at 2:16. After a Talbert three-pointer cut the deficit to eight, Dylan Osetkowski threw down a thunderous dunk to put Tulane ahead at halftime, 37-27.
Maxwell paced the Flames offense at the end of the period with 10 points. Harris led all scorers at the half with 13 tallies. Jarreau also had nine points for the Green Wave.
Liberty shot 50.0 percent (11-of-22) in the first 20 minutes, including 40.0 percent (4-of-10) from three-point land. Tulane closed out the stanza with 46.7 percent (14-of-30), outscoring Liberty in the paint, 18-12. The Green Wave also took advantage of the Flames' eight miscues, turning them into 12 points.
Tulane stretched its lead out to 15 to start the second half before Talbert drained a three-ball at 17:59. The treys continued to fly with Melvin Frazier answering with one of his own on the other end. Lovell Cabbil joined the three-point party with 16:31, knocking down Liberty's sixth trifecta of the contest to cut it to 12, 45-33.
Neither team scored from the field over the next 5:10. After a Tulane free throw, Morgan tacked on a three-pointer to give the Green Wave a 16-point lead. Tulane continued to widen the gap, increasing its advantage to 24 (61-37) with an Osetkowski layup with 7:37 remaining.
Tulane led by as much as 27 with 6:30 left on the clock. The Flames climbed within 19 off a Cabbil three-pointer with 38 ticks left. Following two more Tulane baskets, Talbert tacked on two free throws to set up the 72-51 final.
Liberty will begin Big South play on Thursday, when it steps into the Dedmon Center for a matchup with Radford. The Flames will play its first of two conference contests in December before returning to non-conference action. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., with the contest broadcasting live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, MASN, ESPN3 and the Big South Network.