John Dawson's late-game heroics came through again for the Liberty men's basketball team, Saturday afternoon in the Vines Center. With the Flames and Big South leader High Point tied, Dawson drove to the basket and connected on a layup with less than two seconds left, sealing the 69-67 final.
Sophomore guard A.C. Reid paced the Liberty offense with 15 points, going 5-of-8 from three-point land. Redshirt freshman Ezra Talbert was also instrumental in the contest, posting 14 points. Talbert went 3-of-3 from long distance, which included two key three-pointers during the final 3:07. Dawson's game-winning shot pushed him to an 11-point performance on the day. The redshirt sophomore also had seven rebounds.
High Point guard John Brown, who entered the contest averaging 19.6 ppg, led all scorers with 22 points. Anthony Lindauer (13) and Adam Weary (12) rounded out the Panthers' double-digit scorers.
With the win, Liberty moves to 7-15 overall and 4-5 in Big South action. High Point, who came into the game tied for first place in the Big South with UNC Asheville, moves to 13-7 on the year and 6-3 in conference play.
The Flames shot 51.0 percent (26-of-51) from the field, marking its third best shooting percentage, this season. Liberty benefited from sharp shooting in the second period, hitting 14-of-23 shots (60.9 percent). The Flames' 13 three-pointers tied their second best mark of the season.
High Point also shot well on the afternoon, closing the contest shooting at a 55.3 percent clip (26-of-47). The Panthers found their rhythm inside, outscoring Liberty in the paint, 40-24. However, the visitors were limited from downtown, going 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) for the game.
In the opening period, Liberty relied heavily on the three-ball, scoring eight of its 12 baskets from behind the three-point arc. During the period, Liberty received treys from five different players – Reid, Ryan Kemrite, Caleb Homesley, Lovell Cabbil and Talbert. Reid led the charge with a quartet of trifectas.
Brown posted nearly half of the Panthers' points in the stanza, finishing with 13. The redshirt senior, went 6-of-8 from the field and 1-of-4 at the foul line.
Liberty had its largest lead of the half with 2:27 left on the clock. Talbert swished a three-pointer, giving the Flames a seven-point, 30-23 advantage. Following an Adam Weary layup, Cabbil countered with a jumper. Brown closed out the period for High Point with a layup, resulting in a 32-27 Liberty halftime lead.
Despite the contest starting off as a defensive clinic, High Point concluded the first half shooting 52.4 percent (11-of-21). The Flames went 12-of-28 (42.9 percent) in the period.
Along with Brown's 13 points for High Point, Reid's four three-pointers gave him 12 tallies for the Flames.
The Panthers began to chip away at the Liberty lead in the second period. High Point utilized a 9-0 run to take a four-point lead. Lindauer kick started the burst with a three-pointer, after a game-tying layup by Weary and a Haiishen McIntyre basket, Lindauer completed the surge with a layup. Lindauer's basket at 15:43 put High Point up 40-36.
High Point took an eight-point lead thanks to another Weary bucket at 13:14. The Flames began to gradually cut away at the deficit. After a Maxwell layup made it a one-possession game, a Kemrite three-pointer reclaimed the lead for Liberty (51-50), at the 7:46 mark.
The Panthers led by as much as five with 4:22 remaining. However, three-point baskets by Reid and Talbert put the Flames back on top. A seesaw battle ensued, with three ties taking place in the final 1:39.
Talbert's final three-ball at 1:24 gave the Flames a two-point edge. Weary and Dawson began trading layups in the final seconds, ultimately setting up the game-winning basket and the 69-67 final.
Liberty returns to the road on Wednesday, squaring off with Gardner-Webb. Game time in Boiling Springs, N.C., is slated for 7 p.m.