Liberty Erases Early Deficit, Defeats Jacksonville 88-49
Liberty erased an 11-point deficit in the first half to come back and defeat Jacksonville, 88-49, Tuesday night at Liberty Arena to extend its home winning streak to 44 games. The Flames improve to 13-6 and 4-0 in conference, while Jacksonville drops to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in the ASUN. Jacksonville came into the game with the No. 1 scoring defense in the country, and the Flames were the first team to score 70 points on Jacksonville this season, shooting 61 percent for the game led by Darius McGhee’s 27 points.
From the tip, Liberty struggled on offense, missing its first seven field goal attempts, allowing Jacksonville to jump out to an 8-1 lead by the first media timeout. At the 11:22 mark, Jacksonville extended its lead to double-digits (16-5), as the Dolphins received scoring contributions from five different players during that span. Liberty responded with a 19-6 run over the next four and a half minutes to take its first lead of the game (24-22). Liberty ended the half shooting 54 percent from the field and took a 40-30 lead going into halftime. Liberty’s 40 points was the most points Jacksonville had allowed in a half this season.
Liberty started the second half on an 8-0 run to keep its lead at double digits. Liberty controlled the second half from start-to-finish, outscoring Jacksonville 48-19, led by Keegan McDowell’s 12 points in the half. Liberty shot 72 percent (13-18) in the latter half to come away with the 39-point victory.
Key Stats & Notes
- Liberty extended its home winning streak to 44 games, the second longest winning streak in Division I.
- Darius McGhee led all scorers with 27 points, recording his 24th career 20-point game.
- Keegan McDowell made a career-high seven three-pointers and scored 21 points, tying his career high.
- Liberty shot 61 percent from the field, its highest field goal percentage against a Division I opponent this season.
- Liberty limited Jacksonville to 38.5 percent (20-52) from the field.
- Liberty recorded 20 assists off 26 made field goals.
- Liberty received scoring contributions from nine different players.
- Liberty allowed Jacksonville to score only 19 points in the second half, the third fewest points Liberty has allowed a Division I opponent to score in a half this season.
- Jacksonville’s 49 points is the second fewest points in a game this season for the Dolphins.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“I love the way our guys shared the ball tonight. I thought we were very detailed on both ends of the floor, and when you shoot it like that, it makes the game a lot easier. We have a ton of respect for Jacksonville because we know how stout their defense has been, and I think our guys after a slow start just tried to take what they were giving us and when we saw a couple go in it gave us a little bit of confidence. The score is not indicative of an opponent they are, and they are going to be a factor in this league.”
Liberty will now hit the road for two games away from home to close out the week. The Flames’ first road contest of the week will be on Thursday, Jan. 20, at Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.