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Curry and Smith Lift LU to Victory in Vegas

December 22, 2008  Las Vegas, Nev.  RSS
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Seth Curry poured in a career-high 30 points in Liberty win over Northern Colorado.

Seth Curry poured in a career-high 30 points in Liberty win over Northern Colorado.

Seth Curry tallied a career-high 30 points and Anthony Smith chipped in with 23 points himself, helping the Liberty Flames (8-4) top the Northern Colorado Bears (3-8), 75-70, Monday afternoon, inside the Orleans Arena, as part of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic.

Curry scored 25 of his career-high points in the second half, as Liberty overcame a 12-point deficit. Curry's 12 field goals were also a career best for the nation's leading freshman scorer.

Two Smith free throws at 16:14 staked Liberty to the early 7-6 advantage; however Northern Colorado jumped out to a nine-point lead, 19-10, courtesy of a 13-4 run. Two free throws by Will Figures capped the run nearly four minutes later.

The Bears extended the lead to 12 points, 34-22, scoring 15 of the game's next 27 points. Mike Proctor capped the span of time with a bucket in the paint at 4:49. Chris Summers put Liberty on the scoreboard at 3:56, ending a four-minute scoreless period for the Flames. Summers' bucket cut Liberty's deficit to 10 points, 34-24.

Liberty then closed out the half on an 8-2 run, going into the intermission down six points, 38-32. During the run, Smith tallied six points and Kyle Ohman capped the half's scoring with two free throws with 42.2 seconds left.

Liberty finished the first half shooting 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from the floor, including 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from three-point range.

Northern Colorado shot 63.6 percent (14-of-22) from the floor, including 50.0 percent (6-of-12) from three-point range.

Two Jesse Sanders' free throws at 16:34 gave Liberty its first lead since the opening four minutes of the game. Sanders' markers gave Liberty a one-point lead, 41-40, and completed a 9-2 Liberty surge.

Neal King sank two free throws at 15:28 to allow Northern Colorado to recapture the lead, 46-44. Liberty continued to battle, as Anthony Smith connected on the trey at 14:12, giving Liberty a one-point lead, 49-48.

A Curry layup at 12:38 extended the Liberty advantage to three points, 51-48. The Bears clawed back, taking a two-point advantage and the lead back from the Flames, 53-51, courtesy of five straight Northern Colorado points. Will Figures finished the streak with a layup at 10:30.

Northern Colorado extended its lead to five points, 62-57, when John Pena scored a bucket in the paint at 6:15. The Flames battled right back, scoring seven-straight points, taking a two point lead, 64-62. Curry finished off the run with a layup at 4:12.

A Kingman trey at 2:43 continued the see-saw battle, giving the Bears the lead again, 68-66. After a Jesse Sanders turnover on a Devon Beitzel steal, the Bears extended its lead to four points, 70-66, when Beitzel scored in transition at 2:20.

But that would be the final time North Colorado would find the scoreboard during the final two-plus minutes of the game, as Liberty finished the contest on a 9-0 run to seal the victory. Smith tallied a bucket in the paint at 1:12 to put Liberty up for good, 71-70. Two free throws by Brolin Floyd at 1:04 gave the Flames a three-point lead, 74-70.

Curry and Floyd each sank an attempt from the charity stripe over the final minute of play to give the Flames the five-point victory.

The Flames shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the floor in the second period, finishing the contest hitting 44.4 percent (24-of-54) from the field. Liberty also connected on 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from three-point range.

Besides Curry's career night (30 points) and Smith's 23 points, Ohman notched 11 points in the winning effort. Floyd pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

A strong defensive effort by the Flames in the second half helped Liberty cut Northern Colorado's shooting percentage nearly in half during the second 20 minutes of play.

The Bears were limited to just 38.2 percent shooting from the field during the final period (13-of-34), finishing the game shooting 48.2 percent from the field (27-of-56). Northern Colorado shot 37.5 percent from behind the arc (9-of-24), lessened by a 3-of-12 effort in the second period.

Beitzel led the Bears with a team-high 21 points, while Mike Proctor chipped in 10 points in the losing cause.

Liberty returns to action tomorrow, concluding the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic, when they take on the USC Upstate Spartans. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m., inside the Orleans Arena.