The Liberty Flames take care of Alabama State, 73-55, to open the St. Pete Shootout with a win.
Lovell Cabbil was late for a film session this week and did not get the start. Caleb Homesley started in his place alongside Keenan Gumbs, Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, Elijah Cuffee, and Scottie James.
It was a slow start for the Flames as they picked up 6 fouls in the first 5 minutes of the game, continuing a concerning trend from Tuesday night at Alabama. A Keegan McDowell 3-pointer would give the Flames a 7-5 lead about 7 minutes into the contest. That shot would spark a 14-0 Liberty run as the Flames would push its lead to 16-5, McDowell would have 5 points during the run.
Keenan Gumbs had a solid first half, a personal 5-0 by the grad transfer would push the Flames lead to 24-10. He had 8 points and 4 rebounds in the first half.
After the slow start where Liberty fell behind 5-2, the Flames went on an extended 33-13 run the rest of the 2nd half to take a 35-18 lead into the halftime break. Liberty shot 63% from the field in the first half and 64% from 3. A balanced scoring attack was led by Keenan Gumbs and Keegan McDowell who had 8 points a piece.
After playing just 2 minutes and scoring just 2 points thanks to early foul trouble, Scottie James made his presence known in the 2nd half. He scored 6 points in the first 6 minutes, as the redshirt-junior was playing close to his Tarpon Springs, Florida home.
Alabama State’s Reginald Gee scored 11 points in the opening minutes of the 2nd half to stay within striking distance of the Flames. His 3-pointer at the 11:51 mark put the score at 47-36. Liberty would respond with an 10-0 run to again seize control of the game, pushing the lead to 21 with 8 minutes left in the game. From there, the Flames would coast to an 18 point win.
Keenan Gumbs led the way with 14 points and 7 rebounds while connecting on all 6 of his free throw attempts. Scottie James added 11 points and 5 rebounds despite only playing 2 minutes in the first half after picking up 2 early fouls.
Alabama State shot just 24% from the field in the first half. They would shoot 54% in the 2nd half, finishing at 40% for the game.
The Flames shot 22-for-25 from the free throw line on the afternoon.
Liberty finished with 18 turnovers, much higher than their season average of just over 10.
The Flames dominated on the defensive glass, out-rebounding the Hornets 27-14.
Darius McGhee affected the game as well with his 11 points on 3-of-7 three pointers.
With Liberty playing games on consecutive days, it’s important to note that no one on the team played 30 minutes today.
Liberty will face the winner of Austin Peay/Campbell on Saturday at 2:30.