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Liberty Drops Close Game at Saint Louis

December 19, 2008  St. Louis, Mo.  RSS
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Flames fall at Saint Louis on Friday night.

Flames fall at Saint Louis on Friday night.

The Liberty Flames (7-4) have dropped two games in a row for the first time this season, after falling to the Saint Louis Billikens (6-4) on Friday night, 73-70, inside the brand-new Chaifetz Arena.

An Anthony Smith trey and a Brolin Floyd layup at 17:24 quickly gave the Flames an early 5-0 lead. Saint Louis rebounded quickly, scoring eight straight points to grab a three-point advantage, 8-5. A Barry Eberhardt bucket at 14:40 capped the run, which also included four points from Tommie Liddell III and a hoop from Brian Conklin.

The Flames came right back, taking a three-point lead of their own, 14-11, via a 9-3 spurt, capped by Jesse Sanders' layup at 10:44. The Liberty run inspired Saint Louis to reel off a 10-0 run, retaking the lead, 21-14. A Kevin Lisch trey at 6:46 finished the streak.

The Billikens managed to extend their lead to 10 points, 36-26, going into the break. A Lisch triple with 10 seconds left pushed the Saint Louis advantage up to 12 points, 36-24, but Johnny Stephene tallied a bucket with three seconds left to pull Liberty within 10 points going into the intermission.

Liberty hit 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from the floor, including 12.5 percent (1-of-8) from three-point land, prior to halftime.

Meanwhile, Saint Louis connected on 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from the floor, including 36.4 percent (4-of-11) from three-point land, during the opening 20 minutes.

Liberty started the second stanza like it started the first, scoring five straight points. A Kyle Ohman three and back-to-back free throws by Smith cut the Saint Louis advantage to five points, 36-31, at the 18:21 mark.

Saint Louis pushed its lead right back to 10 points, 47-37, via an 11-6 spurt, capped by another trey by Lisch at 14:06. Then the Billikens extended their lead to 16 points, 63-47, courtesy of a 16-10 run. A Lisch three-point basket and a Kwamain Mitchell layup at 7:08 capped the streak.

The Billikens pushed the advantage up to 17 points, 66-49, after Liddell completed a three-point play at 3:57.

It was at that moment the Flames' "Cardiac Kids" mantra kicked in, down by 17. Liberty spent the final 3:57 to put an assault on the Billikens.

The Flames quickly cut the deficit down to seven points, 66-59, via 10 straight points. Smith scored two free throws at 1:19 to finish the run.

Liberty then went into foul mode, trying to maximize possession times. After Lisch made one-of-two free throws, Floyd hit a three-pointer from the corner at 1:09 to bring Liberty within five points, 67-62.

A Curry bucket with 42 seconds left closed the gap to four points, 70-66. Ohman stole the ensuing Saint Louis inbounds pass and tallied a bucket in the paint, cutting the lead to two points, 70-68.

Mitchell connected one-of-two free throws with 27 seconds left, giving Saint Louis a three-point lead, 71-68. The Flames quickly came down the court, and Stephene attempted a trey from the wing, which missed its mark with 12 seconds left.

Lisch made two free throws with nine seconds remaining, making it a five-point Saint Louis lead, 73-68. Smith retaliated with a bucket with two seconds left, trimming the deficit back to three points, 73-70.

Liddell tossed the inbounds pass out of bounds, giving Liberty one final opportunity with 1.9 seconds left. Smith attempted a three from the wing that was blocked by Liddell as time expired.

Liberty finished the game shooting 44.0 percent (22-of-50) from the floor, including 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from beyond the arc. Smith led the Flames with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while Stephene tallied a career high with 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and a 9-of-10 effort from the charity stripe.

Saint Louis ended the contest shooting 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the floor, including 35.0 percent (7-of-20) from three-point range. Lisch tallied a team-high 20 points, while Liddell tallied a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Liberty is back in action on Monday, when the Flames face Northern Colorado in Las Vegas, Nev. The game tips off at 5:30 p.m., inside the Orleans Arena, and is part of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic.