Photo Courtesy: Longwood Athletics
To begin its Big South road trip this week, Liberty tied a program record with 17 three-pointers, capturing a 93-62 win over Longwood on Thursday at Willett Hall.
As the Lancers (6-14, 3-6) handed out white t-shirts, the Flames were white hot from three-point range, tying for the most triples by a Big South team in a single game this season. Liberty improves to 12-10 and 7-2 in the Big South. Liberty's 93 points were its most since scoring 104 against Union College on Dec. 28, 2012.
"Our guys are improving and I liked the way we built a lead and sustained it throughout the game," head coach Ritchie McKay said.
Due to the lopsided score, McKay was able to play all 13 players against the Lancers. Four out of Liberty's five starters scored double-digits, led by Ryan Kemrite with 22 points. Kemrite moved into 41st place on Liberty's all-time career scoring list with 705 career points. Lovell Cabbil and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz scored 13 points each, while John Dawson had 12.
Brock Gardner tied his career high, pulling down six rebounds while three players record three assists each in Myo Baxter-Bell, Cabbil and Gardner. The Flames held Longwood below its season average of 67.5 points while also forcing 14 turnovers.
Darrion Allen led Longwood with 20 points, followed by a 19-point effort from Khris Lane.
The Flames got off to a blazing start, scoring the game's first 16 points while forcing four turnovers in the opening four minutes of the game. Baxter-Bell got things started for the Flames on offense, tallying Liberty's first four points, before Dawson made his first two three-pointer attempts. Liberty held the Lancers scoreless for the first 5:18 of the game, building a 16-0 lead.
"We got open shots that were in rhythm tonight," Dawson said. "We hit the paint a lot more this game and just opened up the game for us on the perimeter. Tonight was a good win for us."
Liberty was efficient from the three-point line in the first nine minutes of the first half, draining six threes to jump out to a 29-9 lead. Five different Flames made a three in the first half. The Flames paired their hot shooting with a stingy defensive effort, limiting the Lancers to 33.3 percent from the field in the opening session.
Kemrite put an exclamation point on the first half, completing a four-point play to send Liberty into halftime with a 50-25 lead. Cabbil had an efficient first half, shooting 80 percent from the field with 11 points while going a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Liberty's 50 points served as its most in a first half this season, while this was the fourth time that Liberty has held a Big South opponent to 25 points or less during the first 20 minutes. As a team, the Flames shot 71.4 percent from three-point range, making 10-of-14 in the first half. After locking up the defense, the Flames was able to clean up the boards as they out-rebounded the Lancers 17-10 in the opening session. The Flames displayed active hands on defense as four different players recorded a steal in the first half led by Baxter-Bell and Kemrite with two apiece.
With Longwood executing a full-court press after halftime, Liberty countered with a 13-6 run to start the half. The Flames continued to stay hot from three in the second half, hitting their 15th three-pointer to tie a season-high with just under 14 minutes left in the game. The visitors built their lead to as many as 39 points, at 80-41 and again at 82-43 after a pair of Gardner finishes.
Zach Farquhar nailed his first career three-pointer with 1:59 remaining, giving the Flames their program record-tying 17th triple of the night.
Liberty will close out the week on Saturday, traveling to take on Campbell at Gore Arena in Buies Creek, N.C. The Camels are coming off a 78-61 road win at Radford tonight. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.