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    Liberty Defense Stifles Bradley in 55-44 Victory at Cancun Challenge

    Nov 23, 2022 | Cancun Mexico | Men's Basketball

    The Liberty defense stifled Bradley in a 55-44 victory in the third place game of the Cancun Challenge, Wednesday evening.

    The Flames held the Braves to a season-worst 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the floor on the way to the win in what was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

    Liberty moves to 3-3 on the season and snaps a two-game losing skid. Bradley slips to 3-3 with the setback. Darius McGhee led the way for Liberty, as he scored 16 of his game-high 21 points after intermission.

    McGhee was named to the Cancun Challenge All-Tournament team for his efforts. In three games at the event (two in Mexico, one in United States), he averaged 24.3 ppg and 4.0 rpg and shot 90.5 percent (19-of-21) from the foul line. McGhee knocked down 12 three-pointers and had five steals as well.

    Box Score Highlights
    Liberty Individuals: Darius McGhee 21 points, 4 assists, 2 steals; Blake Preston 10 points, 9 rebounds, 5-8 FG; Colin Porter 9 points, 3-6 FG, 5 assists

    Bradley Individuals: Malevy Lyons 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals; Darius Hannah 8 points, 5 rebounds

    Key Team Stats: Liberty held a 41-28 edge in the rebounding category, grabbing a season-best 14 offensive rebounds. The Flames’ bench held a 14-9 edge in points, led by 10 points from Blake Preston and four points from Isiah Warfield. Liberty shot 43.8 percent from three-point land (7-of-16) in the second half, with McGhee making four of his five threes in the final 20 minutes.

    Thoughts From Head Coach Ritchie McKay
    “I thought tonight was the first night we put together 40 minutes of defensive consistency. I thought Blake Preston injected a bunch of confidence in our group. I like how we finished the game. I’m proud of our guys’ effort.”

    Turning Point
    After Liberty built up a 15-point advantage early in the second half and led 32-17 with 16:42 left, Bradley chipped away and closed within eight (37-29) with 10:14 left.

    The Flames responded by scoring 15 of the next 23 points to push the lead back up to 15, 52-37, with 4:46 left. During that stretch, Liberty knocked down four three-pointers, two from Darius McGhee and one apiece from Colin Porter and one from Kyle Rode, and got a three-point play from Shiloh Robinson. Rode’s three from long distance with the shot clock winding down put the Flames on top 46-34 with 6:53 remaining, and McGhee’s fifth and final triple with 4:46 on the clock made it 52-37.

    Key Stats & Notes
    • Three Flames grabbed six or more rebounds tonight, led by 10 boards from Rode. Rode was one rebound away from matching a career high in what was his second career game of 10+ boards. Preston totaled a season-high nine rebounds. The team’s leading rebounder, Joseph Venzant (6.2 rpg), had six more rebounds this evening.
    • The Flames finish the Cancun Challenge in Mexico with a 1-1 mark and a 1-2 record when including the Southern Miss game Friday, which was a part of the event at United States-based sites.
    • In three games at the Cancun Challenge, McGhee scored 73 points (24.3 ppg). The redshirt senior guard is up to 1,989 career points and needs only 11 to reach the 2,000-point mark.
    • Freshman point guard Colin Porter scored a career-best nine points, doing so on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Porter, the team leader in assists at 4.5 per game, dished out a game-high five assists tonight.
    • Rode (five points) moved in the top 50 in program history for career points with 689. He currently shares the 50th spot with Rodney Harrison. Venzant set a new career high with two blocks in the contest.
    • This is the fewest points Liberty has allowed this season against a Division I foe. The Flames yielded 38 points to Regent in the season opener (Nov. 7).
    • The Flames’ 14 offensive rebounds tonight were the most they have grabbed in a game since tallying 18 at North Florida last season (Feb. 15, 2022)
    • The Flames finish the Cancun Challenge in Mexico with a 1-1 mark and a 1-2 record when including the Southern Miss game last Friday, which was a part of the event at United States-based sites.

    Up Next
    Liberty will be back in action on Saturday evening for a home contest against Delaware State (1-4). Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Liberty Arena.

    The Flames defeated the Hornets 96-60 last season at home.

    Main Photo at Top of Story: No. 32 Blake Preston