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    Flames’ Defense Stands Firm in 74-57 Home Victory Over FGCU, Saturday

    Jan 28, 2023 | Lynchburg Va | Men's Basketball

    Head Coach Ritchie McKay Press Conference
    Darius McGhee & Kyle Rode Press Conference

    The Liberty defense stood firm in holding FGCU to 23 points in the second half on the way to a 74-57 victory over the Eagles, Thursday evening at Liberty Arena.

    The Flames improve to 18-5 on the year and remain tied atop the ASUN standings at 9-1. Liberty has won six straight games in the league. FGCU slips to 14-9 this season and 4-6 in conference play.

    Four Flames scored in double figures this evening, led by Darius McGhee’s 24 points. McGhee is up to 2,347 career points and needs only 27 points to set a new school record for career points. The redshirt senior guard trails only Karl Hess, who scored 2,373 points from 1977-80.

    Joining McGhee in double figures were Kyle Rode (14 points), Shiloh Robinson (14 points) and Blake Preston (10 points, 10 rebounds). Preston’s double-double was the seventh of his career and second in four games.

    A total of 4,007 fans were in attendance tonight, the second biggest crowd in Liberty Arena history.

    Box Score Highlights
    Liberty Individuals: Darius McGhee 24 points, 10-21 FG, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals; Kyle Rode 16 points, 4-6 3FG; Shiloh Robinson 14 points, 7 rebounds; Blake Preston 10 points, 10 rebounds, 5-9 FG

    FGCU Individuals: Isaiah Thompson 20 points, 7-12 FG; Andre Weir 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5-10 FG; Zach Anderson 10 points

    Key Team Stats: For a second straight game, Liberty held a decisive edge in points in the points, outscoring the Eagles 44-18. This is the second straight game (and third of the year) the Flames have tallied 44 or more points in the paint after Liberty finished with 46 points in the paint against Stetson on Thursday. The Flames also shot over 50 percent (32-of-62, 51.6 percent) for the second straight contest. FGCU shot 42.9 percent (21-of-49) on the night but only 36 percent (9-of-25) over the final 20 minutes. Liberty held a 38-22 rebounding advantage, 14-2 edge in bench points, 11-2 edge in fast break points and 10-2 advantage in second chance points.

    Thoughts From Head Coach Ritchie McKay
    “I have a lot of respect for FGCU. I knew they had a plan, and they’ve got really good players. That was really good for us to be in a game like that. I thought we showed a great deal of composure, especially in the second half. I think we tightened up our defense a bit.”

    Turning Point
    With Liberty leading 38-34 at intermission, FGCU kept it close in the early stages of the second half. A basket from Andrew Weir at the 16:37 mark trimmed the Flames’ lead to 43-38, but Liberty responded with a 20-4 over the next 8:50 to build up a 63-42 lead. Shiloh Robinson got the run started with a driving layup, followed by a three-point play at the 14:50 mark from Darius McGhee to push the lead to double digits. Blake Preston capped off the run at the 8:02 mark with a putback to push the lead to 21.

    FGCU countered with a 12-2 run to get with 11, 65-54, at the 3:37 mark. Just as he had done two nights before, Shiloh Robinson answered the bell late in the game for the Flames. The senior scored in the paint at the 3:08 mark, and on the next trip down the floor, Colin Porter found Robinson for a corner three to stretch the hosts’ lead back up to 16, 70-54, with 2:34 remaining.

    Key Stats & Notes
    • Darius McGhee’s 24-point effort tonight gives him 50 career 20-plus point games.
    • Kyle Rode scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half and was 4-of-4 from three-point range in the first 20 minutes. Rode hit a buzzer beater three at the end of the first frame to put the Flames on top 38-34 heading into the locker room.
    • Blake Preston has reached double figures in five of the last five games and is 11.0 ppg and 7.8 rpg during that span.
    • Shiloh Robinson has scored in double figures in three of the last five games and is averaging 13.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg in that span.
    • All nine of the Flames’ ASUN wins have by at least 11 points.
    • Liberty has surrendered less than 60 points in 14 of its 18 wins this season. The most the Flames gave up in a win was 63 to NC Central (79-63) at home, Nov. 14.
    • The Flames have won six of seven all-time meetings with the Eagles.
    • Liberty is 13-1 on its home floor this season and 68-5 at home over the last five years.

    Up Next
    Liberty will hit the road for a pair of ASUN contests, beginning on Thursday at Austin Peay (8-15, 2-8 ASUN). Tip time between the Flames and Governors is slated for 7 p.m. at the Winfield Dunn Center in Clarksville, Tenn., and the game will be carried on ESPN+.

    The Flames are 1-2 all-time against the Governors, but this is the first time the two squads will meet in ASUN competition.

    Main Photo at Top of Story: No. 33 Shiloh Robinson