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Bannister, McLean & Smith Pace Liberty's Win

January 19, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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TeeJay Bannister ranks No. 5 in the nation in assists and he dished out eight more on Saturday night against Charleston Southern.

TeeJay Bannister ranks No. 5 in the nation in assists and he dished out eight more on Saturday night against Charleston Southern.

Anthony Smith scored a game-high 22 points and TeeJay Bannister dished out eight assists to help the Liberty Flames to its first Big South victory of the season, 79-63, over the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, Saturday night, inside the Vines Center.

Liberty joined Auburn, Tulane and Virginia Tech as the only opponents of Charleston Southern to hold the Buccaneers under 70 points in a contest this season.

The win was Liberty's eighth straight at home and pushed the Flames' record back to .500 at 9-9 and 1-2 in Big South Conference play. Charleston Southern falls to 7-11 and 1-2 in league action.

Charleston Southern jumped out to the early 5-2 lead, courtesy of an Omar Carter bucket in the lane, followed by a three-pointer from the wing at 17:30. The Buccaneers then extended the lead to four points, 8-4, via a three-point bucket by Shelton Carter at 15:34.

The Flames responded, exploding on a 20-5 run to take a 24-13 lead, capped by two Alex McLean baskets from the charity stripe at 9:10. During the run, Liberty tallied three-point buckets by Jeremy Anderson, Kyle Ohman and Anthony Smith. An alley-opp from TeeJay Bannister to Smith at 11:19 brought a raucous crowd to its feet, at 10:17 during the spurt.

The Buccaneers were able to cut the lead to five, 32-28, courtesy of a 15-8 advantage over the next nine minutes of play. Jamarco Warren's three-point bucket with 47.2 seconds left ended the spurt.

Charleston Southern went into the intermission down four points, 34-30, after Tovi Bailey sank both his free throw attempts with seven-tenths of a second left in the opening period.

Liberty shot 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from the floor and 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from behind the arc. Charleston Southern finished the opening stanza hitting 39.3 percent (11-of-28) from the field and 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from three-point range. The Flames won the first half battle of the boards, 20-15.

The Flames opened up the second half on a 24-9 run, taking a 54-39 lead into the second media timeout at 11:35. McLean scored the first five points of the half and seven of the Flames' first nine markers.

Bannister hit two free throws to extend the lead to 21 points, 62-41, after Quinton Goods was tagged for a technical foul. Charleston Southern then ripped off a 15-4 run, cutting the lead down to 10 points, 66-56, capped by an Omar Carter bucket at 6:09.

However, that would be as close as the Buccaneers would get. Liberty closed out the game on a 13-7 surge, taking home its first Big South Conference win of the season, 79-63.

The Flames finished shooting 46.2 percent (24-of-52) from the floor, marking the first time this season that the team had not connected on at least 50 percent of its shots in a home contest. Liberty ended up nailing 36.0 percent (9-of-25) of its three-point attempts in the win.

Charleston Southern shot 39.7 percent (23-of-58) from the floor and hit 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from behind the arc. Liberty won the rebound battle, 36-32, and created 14 Charleston Southern turnovers, crediting the Flames with 10 takeaways.

Smith tallied a game-high 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. McLean chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds, while Bannister dished out a game-high eight assists and tallied 14 points. Bannister was a perfect 12-of-12 from the charity stripe, helping Liberty to hit 88.0 percent (22-of-25) of its free throw attempts.

Omar Carter led the Charleston Southern cause with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting. Shelton Carter chipped in 13 points from the bench. Chris Moore, who was averaging 14.4 points per game entering the contest, was limited to four points on 2-of-5 shooting.

Liberty returns to action on Monday when Coastal Carolina invades the Vines Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. Charleston Southern will head down to High Point, Monday night, to take on the Panthers, at 7 p.m.