Liberty Falls to Oral Roberts 84-70, Monday Night
Liberty committed a season-high 20 turnovers in an 84-70 setback to the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, Monday evening at Mabee Center.
The Flames led 42-38 at the half, but the Golden Eagles flipped the script in the second half while shooting 55.6 percent (15-of-27) over the final 20 minutes to outpace Liberty 46-28.
Liberty (6-4) sees a four-game winning streak ended. Oral Roberts (8-3) extends its winning streak to five games following the victory in what was the first meeting between the two schools in nearly 16 years.
The Flames’ Darius McGhee finished with a team-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and matched a season high with six three-pointers (6-of-11). Tonight’s contest pitted two of the best scorers in the country in McGhee (21.2 ppg) and Max Abmas (18.9 ppg coming in). McGhee bolstered his career points total to 2,079 with his 24-point effort, while Abmas hit the 2,000-point mark this evening with a game-high 26 points.
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Darius McGhee 24 points, 8-15 FG, 6-11 3 FG, 4 rebounds, 3 steals; Kyle Rode 8 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds; Brody Peebles 9 points, 4-7 FG; Colin Porter 8 points, 3-3 FG, 2-2 3 FG, 3 assists; Joseph Venzant 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3-3 FG
Oral Roberts Individuals: Max Abmas 26 points, 8 rebounds, 5-12 3 FG; Issac McBride 15 points, 4 assists, 2 steals; Kareem Thompson 15 points, 7-9 FG, 2 steals; Connor Vanover 11 points, 5-5 FT; Patrick Mwamba 8 points, 11 rebounds
Key Team Stats: Liberty shot 51.1 percent (24-of-47) on the evening but was done in by the 20 turnovers, a season high. This is the first time the Flames have shot above 50 percent this year and lost (5-1 record). The Flames’ 20 turnovers are the most they’ve had since committing 21 at LSU in the second game of the 2021-22 campaign (Nov. 15, 2021). Oral Roberts finished the night shooting 48.4 percent (30-of-62). The Golden Eagles scored 23 points off 20 Flames turnovers, while the Flames scored seven points off 10 ORU giveaways.
Thoughts From Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“Oral Roberts is a good team. I’m really impressed with them on film. I thought we had some stretches where we played more characteristic of how we’ve been playing and who we are. We had a bad stretch in the second half. When we turn it over and put people on the foul line, it’s a recipe for disaster for us. Consequently, we weren’t able to keep it close enough to have a chance to win.”
Liberty started off hot from the floor, hitting 14 of its first 20 shots (70 percent). The Flames finished the first half shooting 62.5 percent from the field (15-of-24) but committed 11 turnovers in the opening stanza. Oral Roberts hung close, and Abmas knocked down a three-pointer with three seconds to go in the frame to trim the Flames lead to 42-38 at the half. The Flames featured five players with six or more points in the first half, led by 10 from McGhee.
Oral Roberts opened the second half 13-4 run over the first 4:24 to take a 51-46 lead. Liberty never regained the lead the rest of the way. The Flames were within five (64-59) with under seven minutes to play, but a 9-0 Golden Eagles run put the game out of reach.
Key Stats & Notes
• McGhee eclipsed the 20-point mark for an eighth straight game. The redshirt senior guard’s longest streak of 20-plus point games is 10, which he did over the final 10 games of last season.
• McGhee’s six threes gives him 44 on the season and 410 in his career. The guard dished out his 300th career assist this evening. He is one of 17 players in school history with 300 or more career assists.
• The Golden Eagles won the rebounding battle by a slim 29-27 margin.
• ORU improves to 2-0 in the all-time series. Prior to tonight, the two squads hadn’t met on the hardwood since Dec. 30, 2006 at the BYU Holiday Classic. Liberty remains winless (0-4) all-time against Summit League/Mid-Continent Conference foes.
• This is the second most amount of points the Flames have given up in a game this season. Liberty entered the night surrendering only 60.3 ppg. ORU came into the night averaging 86.0 ppg.
• Monday’s matchup was a battle of teams that were both ranked in the College Insider Men’s Mid-Major Top 25. The Flames entered the game in the No. 20 position, while the Golden Eagles were listed in the No. 24 slot.
Liberty will head to Springfield, Mass. for the 2022 Hall of Fame Classic. The Flames will face the Bryant Bulldogs (9-3), Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at MassMutual Center.
Main Photo at Top of Story: No. 3 Isiah Warfield