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Liberty Cruises Past Gardner-Webb, 67-51

January 29, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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After defeating Gardner-Webb Saturday night, 67-51, John Caleb Sanders and the Flames (16-7, 10-1 BSC) look to even the score this Thursday as they square off with leage leading Coastal Carolina. Tipoff at Kimbel Arena is slated for 7 p.m.

After defeating Gardner-Webb Saturday night, 67-51, John Caleb Sanders and the Flames (16-7, 10-1 BSC) look to even the score this Thursday as they square off with leage leading Coastal Carolina. Tipoff at Kimbel Arena is slated for 7 p.m.

The Liberty men's basketball team extended its current win streak to five games on Saturday night, defeating Gardner-Webb, 67-51, inside the Vines Center in Big South Conference action

With the win, Liberty improves to 16-7 on the season and 10-1 in conference, surpassing its overall win total from the 2009-10 campaign. The victory, Liberty's ninth in 10 games, makes the Flames the fifth Division I basketball program in the country to reach 10 conference victories this season.

Gardner-Webb, who has now dropped 12 of their last 13 games, falls to 7-16 on the season and 2-9 in the Big South.

Gardner-Webb lit up the scoreboard first thanks to a Josh Henley layup. Liberty responded with four-straight points from David Minaya and an acrobatic layup by John Brown to take a 6-2 edge at 15:56.

Following another Henley layup, Liberty netted five unanswered points on a traditional three-point play by Evan Gordon and a Minaya jumper to extend its advantage to seven points, 11-4, at 14:03.

Gardner-Webb closed the gap with a Henley jumper and a dunk by Mike Byron. After a Sommy Ogukwe layup made it a five-point margin, the Runnin' Bulldogs cut it back to three with a tip-in by Henley to make it 13-10 at 9:58.

With Liberty still holding a three-point advantage, Gordon added to the bulge at the 6:44 mark, knocking down Liberty's first trey of the game. Byron responded at the other end with a tip-in. The Flames then countered with five straight points off baskets from Gordon and Joel Vander Pol.

Keith Manley chipped away at the ballooning Gardner-Webb deficit with a layup to cut it back to seven, but Gordon tacked on another three for the Flames to give the home team a 26-16 lead with 5:04 left in the half.

Although the pace slowed in the closing minutes of the period, Gordon helped lengthen the distance between the Flames and the Runnin' Bulldogs, tacking on his third three-pointer half with 33 ticks left. Jon Moore closed the half with a jumper, resulting in a 31-22 halftime score in favor of the Flames.

Gordon led all scorers with 14 points at half's end, while Henley paced the Runnin' Bulldogs with eight. Brown proved strong on the glass for the Flames in the opening 20 minutes, concluding the period with eight rebounds.

Entering the contest No. 2 in the conference in three-point field goal percentage defense, Liberty managed to hold the Runnin' Bulldogs scoreless from three-point land (0-9) in the first half. The charity stripe was also unkind to the visitors in the first period (0-4).

Despite Gardner-Webb's three-point and free throw woes, the Runnin' Bulldogs shot 11-of-29 (37.9) from the field. The Flames hit 9-of-36 (25.0 percent) from the field in period, but Gordon's three-point shooting proved to be the difference, as the sophomore accounted for all three of Liberty's treys in the half.

Both squads traded baskets in the opening minutes of the second period. Minaya broke up the seesaw battle, sinking a jumper following a layup by Brown to give the Flames a 13-point edge. After the Runnin' Bulldogs responded with five-unanswered points, Liberty put up a 5-0 burst of its own off a three-pointer by Jeremy Anderson and a Joel Vander Pol basket to maintain the 13-point cushion, 44-31, at 12:54.

Liberty continued to pull away from the Runnin' Bulldogs in the ensuing minutes. Jesse Sanders increased the margin to 17 at 9:46, knocking down his sixth three-pointer of the season to make it 52-35.

The Flames maintained a solid lead over the Runnin Bulldogs down the stretch. Antwan Burrus gave Liberty its largest lead of the contest with a layup and a fouls shot after the basket to put the home team ahead by 19, 60-41.

Gardner-Webb climbed as close as 13 at the 3:38 mark with a Laron Buggs layup, but could not muster much more in the final minutes, as Liberty held the Runnin' Bulldogs at bay for the 67-51 final.

Gordon led all scorers in the contest with 16 points. Brown fell one point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points and 16 boards. Sanders concluded the contest with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Buggs led the Runnin' Bulldogs with 12 points. Manley chipped in nine tallies and 10 rebounds, followed by Henley who posted nine points and eight rebounds.

Each team shot 33.9 percent from the field in the contest. Gardner-Webb hit 19-of-56 shots, while Liberty went 21-of-62 on the night. The Flames nearly doubled their shooting percentage in the second half of the game, as the Flames shot 46.2 percent in the second (12-of-26).

Gardner-Webb returns to Paul Porter Arena on Thursday to host Winthrop. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Liberty heads to Kimbel Arena on Thursday to take on league leader Coastal Carolina for a chance to even things up at the top spot in the Big South standings. The Chanticleers took the first meeting in the Vines Center on Jan. 8, 70-67. Tipoff time for the rematch is slated for 7 p.m.

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