Liberty made it three straight wins Monday night as they defeated Howard, 75-55, to improve to 5-2 on the season. The Flames had five players score in double figures, led by Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz with a game-high 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
"I am happy for our guys because this is a tough team to play against," head coach Ritchie McKay said. "They have good guards that put you in tough one-on-one spots, but I liked the way we came out defensively."
In tonight's win against the Bison, Ryan Kemrite became the 26th player in school history to record 900 career points as he now sits in 26th place all-time with 907 career points after scoring 11 tonight. For the sixth straight game, Scottie James has recorded at least six rebounds, posting his second straight double-double with a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with 14 points.
For the sixth time this season, Liberty's bench outscored the opposing bench as the Flames' bench contributed 29 points Monday night, paced by Caleb Homesley with 15 points. Freshman Elijah Cuffee filled the stat sheet with 10 points, four assists and three rebounds.
"We have gotten back to a good rhythm," Pacheco-Ortiz said. "We have to keep getting better every day and continue to work hard in practice. We have a lot of areas to improve, but I like where our team is at."
Defense sparked a hot start by the Flames, as they did not allow Howard to score in the 5:40 while jumping out to a 10-0 lead. Crashing the boards early to provide scoring opportunities for the Flames was James, pulling down four rebounds in the first four minutes of action. Liberty got hot from three-point range with four triples in the first 10 minutes of action.
Throughout the first half, Liberty held Howard to four different scoring droughts that lasted at least two minutes and 20 seconds, including two droughts that lasted over three-and-a-half minutes. Liberty's exceptional defense in the first half allowed just nine field goals, limiting the Bison to just 33.3 percent from the field.
On his birthday, Homesley had his best offense output of the season with a season-high 10 points in the first half alone. Liberty was effective in the rebounding department in the first half, outrebounding the Bison 25-13. The bench was extremely effective in the first 20 minutes, outscoring Howard 17-4 as the Flames went into halftime with a 39-20 lead.
Liberty continued its hot streak on offense, making six of its first eight shots to open the second half to take its largest lead of the game (54-30) with 12 minutes left in the game. Looking to cut Liberty's lead in the second half, Howard continued to attack from the three-point line, but the Flames limited the Bison to just 27.3 percent (6-22) in the game from beyond the arc.
Liberty will conclude its six-game homestand on Saturday as they face UNCG. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Vines Center.