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    Strong Second Half Pushes Liberty Past Bryant 82-62 at HOF Classic

    Dec 17, 2022 | Springfield Mass | Men's Basketball

    Darius McGhee Passes Stephen Curry in All-Time Threes

    Trailing by a point at the half, the Liberty Flames outscored the Bryant Bulldogs 50-29 over the final 20 minutes for an 82-62 win on Saturday afternoon at the 2022 Hall of Fame Classic.

    Liberty improves to 7-4 on the year following the victory in what was the first-ever meeting on the hardwood between the two programs. Bryant slips to 8-4 and sees its two-game winning streak halted. The Bulldogs came into the contest ranked fifth nationally in points per game (89.5) but were held nearly 28 points below their season average.

    The Flames’ Darius McGhee was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. The redshirt senior guard finished with a game-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting and knocked down five three-pointers. McGhee’s fifth triple of the game, his 415th career make from long range, vaulted him past Stephen Curry (414 threes at Davidson) for 15th place all-time in NCAA history on the career three-pointers list.

    Brody Peebles scored 16 points, and Kyle Rode added a season-high 15 points and a game-high seven assists

    Box Score Highlights
    Liberty Individuals: Darius McGhee 22 points, 8-15 FG, 5-10 3FG; Kyle Rode 15 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; Brody Peebles 16 points, 5-7 FG, 3-4 3FG, 6 rebounds; Joseph Venzant 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3-4 FG

    Bryant Individuals: Antwan Walker 17 points, 5-7 FG, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks; Earl Timberlake 16 points, 7-10 FG, 5 rebounds; Sherif Gross-Bullock 15 points, 6-12 FG

    Key Team Stats: Liberty committed a season-low six turnovers in the game while forcing 14 Bryant giveaways. The Flames shot 60 percent (18-of-30) in the second half and knocked down eight threes after the break. Liberty shot 85.7 percent (12-of-14) from the foul line, while Bryant made 68.4 percent (13-of-19) of its attempts. The Flames’ bench held a 26-7 advantage in bench points.

    Thoughts From Head Coach Ritchie McKay
    “I think we were more poised in this 40 minutes of basketball than we have been a majority of the season. I see growth. Our offense and defense are married to one another. When we’re doing what we need to do on the defensive end and taking our time on the offensive end and capitalizing on numbers or opportunities, I think we’re a better team. It definitely was a step.”

    Turning Point
    The Flames led 56-50 with 10:23 to play before going on a 20-5 run over the next 5:31 to put the game away. McGhee started the run with a four-point play at the 10:05 mark. The three on that play was the 415th of his career, allowing him to pass Stephen Curry for 15th on the all-time three-pointers list.

    During the run, Rode led the way with seven points, followed by six from Peebles (two threes), four from McGhee and three from Porter. Rode punctuated the run with a three-point play at the 4:52 mark to put Liberty ahead 76-55.

    Key Stats & Notes
    • McGhee eclipsed the 20-point threshold for a ninth straight contest. The guard’s longest streak of games with 20 or more points is 10, set last year. McGhee is up to 49 three-pointers on the season and has five games with five or more triples on the season.
    • McGhee surpassed the 2,100-point mark for his career with today’s 22-point effort. He ranks fourth in program history with 2,101 career points.
    • Liberty jumped out to an early 18-9 lead before Bryant answered with a 15-2 run to grab a 24-20 edge at the 7:14 mark of the first half.
    • The Flames won the battle on the glass 30-28 and dished out 14 assists, compared to 11 for the Bulldogs. Five Liberty players grabbed four or more boards, paced by Blake Preston and Peebles with five each. All five of Preston’s rebounds came in the second frame, two on the offensive glass that both led to baskets.
    • After today’s efficient effort from the floor (5-7 FG, 3-4 3FG), Peebles is now shooting 61.3 percent from the floor and 52.6 percent from three-point range through 11 games. The sophomore guard from Hartselle, Ala. has scored in double figures eight times this season and is averaging 12.2 ppg through 11 contests. He scored 10 or more points seven times as a freshman last year.
    • Rode’s 15-point effort was his highest scoring output since scoring 20 points against Kennesaw State last season (Feb. 26, 2022). He also dished out seven assists, his 25th career game with five or more assists.
    • This is the first time this season the Flames won a game in which they trailed at intermission. Liberty entered the day with an 0-2 record when trailing at halftime.
    • Saturday’s matchup at the birthplace of basketball featured two teams ranked in the College Insider Men’s Mid-Major Top 25. The Flames entered the day in the No. 20 spot in the poll, and the Bulldogs were ranked 17th.

    Up Next
    The Flames will return home to face Grambling State on Monday evening at Liberty Arena. Tip time is 7 p.m. and can also be seen on ESPN+. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

    Main Photo at Top of Story: No. 2 Darius McGhee