Flames Fall In Exhibition Opener to Barton College
Larry Blair scored a game high 26 points but it wasn’t enough as Liberty dropped their exhibition opener to NCAA Division II No. 2-ranked Barton College, 87-83 at the Vines Center on Saturday night.
Barton College jumped out quickly on the Flames starting the game on a 7-0 run capped by a jumper by Anthony Atkinson with 17:46 left in the first half. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 15-4 on a Bobby Buffaloe three-point basket with 15:09 in the first half.
The Flames got hot going on a 7-0 run of their own closing the margin to 15-11 Bulldogs when Blair hit a jumper on an Anthony Smith pass. Liberty than cut the lead to one when B.J. Jenkins tossed an alley oop to Alex McLean making it a 17-16 Barton advantage with 9:14 left in the first half.
Liberty than took their first lead of the game after Blair stole the ball from Jon Douros than passing it up the floor to Smith who scored on the fast break giving the Flames the 18-17 advantage with 8:49 left in the first half.
The Flames reached their biggest lead of the game when Tyler Baker grabbed a rebound off a Armon Jones miss and laid it up giving Liberty the 22-18 advantage.
Liberty maintained the lead until Atkinson hit a three-point basket with 1:37 in the first half giving Barton a 35-33 lead. The Flames countered right back before the end of the half as Blair hit a three-point basket on a Rell Porter pass to retake the lead at 36-35. After a Atkinson missed three-point attempt Blair scored on the fast break to extend the lead by three with 39 seconds left in the half.
Barton College ran the shot clock down and cut the Liberty lead down to one point as Brian Leggett hit a lay-up with two seconds in the half giving LU a 38-37 lead entering the break.
Liberty opened the half with McLean grabbing a rebound on a Buffaloe missed three-point attempt prompting the fast break. Smith capped the play with a dunk off a Blair pass increasing the Flames lead to 40-37 with 19:42 left in the game.
Barton College than went on a 9-0 run capped by a Alejo Barovero lay-up after grabbing the rebound off a Atkinson miss giving the Bulldogs a 46-40 lead with 17:27 left in the game.
Barton College stretched the lead to as many as 15 when Mark Friscone hit the second of two free-throw attempts giving the Bulldogs a 64-49 lead with 12:17 left in the game.
The Flames kept battling going on a 12-4 run capped by a Blair jumper off a Smith pass cutting the Bulldogs lead to 68-62 with 9:00 minutes left in the game. Liberty cut the lead down to four points when Smith scored on a fast break pass from Blair with 7:48 remaining in the contest.
The Flames than cut the lead to one point after Errol Frails missed a three-point attempt and Blair grabbed the rebound and went the length of the court scoring on the fast break leaving Barton College with a 80-79 advantage with 2:46 remaining in the game.
After Smith committed his fifth foul with 2:29 remaining in the game and the Bulldogs holding a one-point advantage, Barton College was able to separate themselves from the Flames causing three turnovers in a 55 second span expanding their lead to 86-79 with 49 seconds remaining.
Hubbard hit a three-point basket for the Flames cutting the Bulldogs lead to four points with 15 seconds remaining in the game but it wasn’t enough as Barton College was able to hold on for the 87-83 victory.
Barton College shot a hot hand from the field finishing the game 51.8 (29-for-56) including going 56.7 (17-for-30) from the floor in the second half. The Flames shot 46.4 (26-for-56) on the night including 48.4 (15-for-31) in the first half.
Blair led all scorers with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting while dishing out 5 assists. Smith scored 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting while McLean scored 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to round out the Flames top performers.
Three Barton College players scored in double figures with Atkinson leading the way with 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting while collecting a game-high nine assists. Buffaloe scored 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting including 3-of-4 from three-point range. Barovero rounds out Barton College’s top performers with 16 points in only 20 minutes of action after leaving the game early in the second half with an injury to his ankle.
The Flames are back in action for their second and final exhibition game against Cedarville on November 11 with a 4:30 p.m. scheduled start at the Vines Center. The Flames open up the regular season at Oklahoma on November 16. Tip time is set for 8 p.m. EST.