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LU Drops Chicago Invitational Opener to Irish

November 22, 2009  South Bend, Ind.  RSS
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Kyle Ohman led the way for the Flames with 13 points against Notre Dame Sunday night.

Kyle Ohman led the way for the Flames with 13 points against Notre Dame Sunday night.

Coming off back-to-back home losses, the Flames took to the hardwood against BIG EAST member Notre Dame, Sunday night, inside the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The match-up was the first of a quartet of contest for the 2009 Chicago Invitational Challenge and saw the Flames eventually fall to the Fighting Irish, 91-72.

Notre Dame's Luke Harangody lived up to his billing, posting the first four points of the contest to give the Fighting Irish the early lead. The Flames answered with baskets from Patrick Konan and Carter McMasters to knot the game at four.

Jonathan Peoples recaptured the lead for the Fighting Irish with a three-pointer, but Liberty's McMasters matched the shot with a trey of his own, tying it again at 15:40. After made shot at the free line by the Irish, Kyle Ohman hit another Liberty three-point basket, giving the Flames a two-point advantage, 10-8.

Liberty's lead was short-lived, as the Fighting Irish responded with a 7-0 run to take a 15-10 lead at 13:31. The Flames were able to cut the deficit to one, 15-14, with baskets from Konan and Evan Gordon, but Notre Dame countered with five unanswered points to extend its lead, 20-14, at 10:38.

Jesse Sanders hit a jumper to cut the lead to four, 20-16, but the Fighting Irish distanced themselves again with another 5-0 spurt. At 8:22, Carter McMasters reached the free throw line, making both shots to trim the disadvantage to seven, 25-18.

A three-point shootout commenced with Luke Harangody nailing a shot from outside to put the Fighting Irish up by 10, 28-18. Gordon answered the Naismith candidate by hitting a trey just seven seconds later, followed by another basket behind the three-point arc from Ohman, making it 28-24 in favor of the home team at 7:40.

Notre Dame then outscored the Flames 13-7 over the next 3:42, extending the lead, 41-28. Both teams then traded baskets down the stretch as the Flames scored four-straight points, followed by an identical spurt by Notre Dame. Refusing to go into the locker room down by double digits, Liberty posted five more points to make it 47-39 at the half.

Konan led the way in points and boards for the Flames at half's end with nine and four respectively, followed by Gordon, who chipped in eight points off the bench. Liberty recorded its highest first half shooting percentage of the season, shooting 14-of-27 (51.9 percent). The Flames recorded two more field goals than their opponent, but the difference came at the charity stripe, with Notre Dame outscoring Liberty in first half free throws, 18-5.

Konan hit a shot from the foul line to give the Flames the first tally of the second half, 47-40. But, Notre Dame proceeded to go on a 9-0 tear courtesy of three Ben Hansbrough foul shots and three-straight baskets from Harangody, giving the home team a 56-40 edge at 16:44. The Fighting Irish began to gradually extend its advantage, leading 79-53 with 9:32 left on the game clock.

After trading baskets, Notre Dame would recapture its 28-point lead just two minutes later, but the Flames prevented their host from stretching it out further, outscoring the Fighting Irish 16-4 over a near six-minute span. Despite Liberty getting as close as 17 points in the latter portion of the second half, Notre Dame would go onto to take the contest, 91-72, dropping the Flames 1-4 on the season.

Harangody was the game's leading scorer and rebounder with 32 points and nine boards. Ohman finished in line in point total with 13. Four other Flames ended the contest in double digits – Gordon (12), Minaya (11), McMasters (10) and Konan (10). Liberty shot 25-of-51 (49.0 percent) from the floor in the contest.

The Flames will take a one-day break from on-court action before their next match-up. Game two of four on Liberty's Chicago Invitational docket pits the Flames against Big Ten member Northwestern on in Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats currently sit at 2-1 this season, after picking up a 69-62 victory Sunday afternoon over Tennessee State. Liberty's contest against Northwestern is slated to tipoff at 6:30 p.m. inside the Welsh-Ryan Arena.