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Buzzer Beating Trey Seals Flames' Fate

December 22, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Evan Gordon finished Wednesday night's contest with a team-leading 15 points.

Evan Gordon finished Wednesday night's contest with a team-leading 15 points.

The Liberty men's basketball team looked to add to its win column, Wednesday night, holding a double-digit lead for the majority of the contest against Hampton. However, the Pirates had other plans, rallying in the second half to close the gap.

With time winding down, Hampton's Kwame Morgan hit a last second three-point shot, giving the Pirates the victory, 62-59.

Morgan's dagger allows Hampton to improve 9-2 on the season, while the Flames fall to 7-6 on the year.
The Flames came out firing on all cylinders, scoring six straight points with baskets from John Brown, David Minaya and Joel Vander Pol. Morgan halted Liberty's opening burst at 17:44 with a thunderous fast break dunk, making it 6-2.

Liberty responded with another scoring run, posting seven unanswered points. After an Evan Gordon three-pointer put Liberty up by nine, Vander Pol capped off the surge with a short range jumper, giving the Flames an 11-point cushion, 13-2.

Morgan once again broke up the scoring streak, this time hitting a free throw from the charity stripe. Following the free throw, Gordon began to heat up, hitting a jumper and trey in back-to-back fashion to put Liberty up 18-3 at 13:00.

Hampton's Charles Funches broke up the Liberty momentum briefly, sinking a jumper for the Pirates. The Flames answered once again with five straight points, courtesy of a Gordon jumper and a John Caleb Sanders three-point basket, giving the Flames a commanding 23-5 lead with 9:47 remaining in the half.

The Pirates sliced the Liberty margin in half over the ensuing five minutes, as the visiting team went on a scoring drought during the span. Brown reignited the red-clad Flames at 4:55 throwing down a two-handed jam to make it 25-14.

Liberty held the Pirates at bay in the closing minutes of the first half, preventing the host team cutting margin to single digits. With Hampton trailing by eight in the remaining seconds of the opening stanza, Antwan Burrus connected on a buzzer beating layup that circled around the rim before touching the nylon, giving the Flames a 33-23 advantage at halftime.

Despite Hampton entering the contest as one of the nation's best in field goal and three-point field goal percentage defense, Liberty managed to conclude the first half shooting 56.0 percent from the field. The Flames knocked down 14-of-25 shots, including 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) from three-point land. On the opposite end, the Flames held the Pirates to 31.8 percent shooting (7-of-22) from the field.

Gordon led the Flames at halftime with 12 points, followed by Vander Pol, who had six. Morgan ended the half as the Pirates leading scorer with nine. Funches and Christopher Tolson concluded the period with six apiece.

Coming out of the locker room to start the second half, Vander Pol kick started the Flames offense slamming a one-handed dunk to give Liberty a 12-point lead. After two made free throws from Funches, Jesse Sanders extended the Liberty lead, knocking down a rare trey to make it 38-25 at 18:05.

The Flames maintained a double digit lead until the 15:53 mark, when Morgan knocked down a three-pointer of his own to pull the Pirates within nine. Funches added a made free throw to cut it to eight at 15:04, 42-34.

Liberty began to fall away from the Pirates over the next 5:05, outscoring Hampton by six, 11-5, during the stretch. Thanks in part to a momentum moving dunk by Burrus and three-pointers by Jeremy Anderson and Gordon, Liberty held a 14-point advantage at 9:59, 53-39.

However, the Pirates erased the deficit over the next six minute, going on a 13-0 run to make it a one-point game with 3:52 left in the contest, 53-52.

Minaya ended Liberty's scoring drought with a jumper at 2:55 followed by a layup to give the Flames a five-point cushion with 2:31 remaining, 57-52.

With Liberty holding a three-point advantage in the last minute, Morgan drained a trey to knot the contest at 59 with 42 seconds left on the clock.

An errant inward pass to the lane by Sanders with 25 seconds left in the contest gave the home squad the ball, setting up the last second drama. With the clock winding down, Morgan pulled up just in front of his bench and drained the last second dagger, giving the Pirates the 62-59 decision.

Morgan finished the contest with a game-high 22 points, followed Funches with 17. Gordon concluded the night with 15 tallies, while Vander Pol finished with a career-high 14 points.

The Pirates forced the Flames to commit 26 turnovers, including two during the final minute of the game, while giving up just 14. Hampton took full advantage of Liberty's miscues, outscoring the Flames 37-11 on points off turnovers.

Liberty finished the night with its highest field goal percentage of the season (52.1 percent), hitting 25-of-48 shots. Hampton shot 45.7 percent from the field, knocking down 21-of-46 shots.

Following a short time off for Christmas, the Flames return to the Vines Center on Tuesday, playing host to Union College (Ky.). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.