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Steady LU Attack Upends UNC Asheville, 78-66

January 31, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jesse Sanders tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Liberty Flames defeat UNC Asheville on Saturday night, 78-66.

Jesse Sanders tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Liberty Flames defeat UNC Asheville on Saturday night, 78-66.

Four starters registered double figures in scoring, as the Liberty Flames (16-7, 7-4 BSC) used a balanced offensive attack to defend its home court, defeating the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (9-13, 5-6 BSC), Saturday night, inside the Vines Center.

Liberty registered its 16th regular season victory, the first time a Liberty team has won at least 16 games during its regular season since the 1996-97 squad. Liberty ended up winning 21 regular season games that year, 23 overall, after losing in the Big South Championship game to Charleston Southern.

Anthony Smith started things off by tallying Liberty's first seven markers, but his two-point layup at 15:46 only brought the Flames within one point of the Bulldogs, 8-7. After Smith tallied a three-point bucket on the game's opening possession, the Bulldogs went on an 8-2 run. During UNC Asheville's opening spurt, they received an old fashioned three-point play from John Williams, followed by a Matt Dickey bucket. Sean Smith capped the run with a trey.

Liberty retook the lead by three points, 14-11, when Johnny Stephene hit a three-point bucket at 10:29, capping a 7-3 spurt. The Flames extended its advantage to eight points, 24-16, after Kyle Ohman stepped on the left elbow and hit a jumper with 8:12 remaining in the opening stanza, capping a 10-5 spurt.

The Flames then opened up the game with a 15-5 run, extending its lead to 18 points, 39-21. Bill Weaver finished the burst with a put back of a Seth Curry miss at 3:43. UNC Asheville then rode two Dickey three-pointers into the break, cutting its deficit to 16 points, 53-27 at intermission.

Liberty connected on 53.3 percent (16-of-30) from the floor, including 41.7 percent (5-of-12) from beyond the arc. The Flames also outrebounded the Bulldogs, 21-16, while forcing 10 UNC Asheville turnovers.

The Bulldogs was successful on 31.3 percent (10-of-32) of its shots, while hitting at a 35.3 percent (6-of-17) clip from three-point land.

Dickey hit two three-point buckets to start the second stanza, cutting the UNC Asheville deficit to 13 points with 17:37 left to play, but a Curry trey at 12:45 pushed Liberty's advantage back to 14 points, 52-38. Curry's long-range jumper countered four straight points by Williams.

Back-to-back three-point buckets by Sean Smith cut Liberty lead to seven points, 59-52, completing a 14-7 run, with 6:40 left to play. The Bulldogs' cut their deficit to three points, 62-59 after a wacky play where UNC Asheville tallied five points on one trip down the court. Eric Stubbs tallied a bucket, while being fouled by Ohman. Stubbs missed the ensuing free throw, but was able to get his own rebound after the ball was batted around under the bucket. Sean Smith hit the ensuing trey, capping the possession.

Stubbs scored another two markers at 3:58 to bring what was at one point in the half a 17 point lead for Liberty, down to two points, 63-61. It was as close as the Bulldogs got on the evening, as Liberty quickly surged to a 14 point advantage, 76-62, via a 13-1 run. An Ohman trey completed the run with 31 seconds left. Ohman's bucket came on the heels of Brolin Floyd's old fashioned three-point play and a Jesse Sanders tip-in.

Liberty held down the fort, as UNC Asheville managed to make a two point dent into its deficit, falling by 12, 78-66.

The Flames fell a tad off their Big South Conference leading 46.6 field goal percentage rate, finishing the contest hitting at a 43.3 percent (26-of-60) mark, including 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from three-point land. Liberty for the second straight game and fourth out of last six contests, outrebounded an opponent, holding the narrow 35-34 advantage.

Curry tallied a team-high 17 points, pushing him past former Charlotte Christian teammate, Omar Carter of Charleston Southern for most points scored by a freshman in the Big South Conference. Carter set the mark with 466 points a season ago. Ohman added 16 points and five rebounds, while Anthony Smith chipped in 15 points and five rebounds. Sanders was the fourth Liberty Flame in double figures with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

UNC Asheville finished the game connecting on 43.4 percent (10-of-32) from the floor, including 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from beyond the arc.

Sean Smith led all scorers with 28 points on 10-of-16 from three-point range, including 8-of-12 from three-point range. The eight three-point field goals tied a Vines Center record for opponents with Leslie Ballard of Radford on Feb. 21, 1998. Dickey would chip in 12 points in the losing effort.

Liberty returns to the hardwood on Wednesday, when they travel to Boiling Springs, N.C., to face the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

UNC Asheville will head through the Blue Ridge Mountains on Monday to face Big South leading VMI. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.