For the first time in 14 years, Liberty knocked off the Winthrop Eagles in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The final score was 73-70.
Liberty had to do so with several members of its team under weather, including leading scorer Scottie James who missed 2 days of practice including the team shoot-around earlier in the day. Caleb Homesley, Ezra Talbert, and Elijah Cuffee have also been dealing with an illness.
It was a game of runs as the Flames fell behind the defending Big South champs 14-2 early before Liberty responded with a 13-2 run midway through the first half. The teams exchanged blows in the 2nd half as well with Liberty going on a 14-2 run to gain a 49-41 advantage with 13 minutes left. The Eagles quickly answered with a 12-0 run to grab the lead again at 53-49.
Pat Kelsey’s squad would maintain the lead throughout the remainder of the game, leading 65-63 at the final media timeout of the game. Coach McKay was whistled for a technical foul right before the time, as Winthrop made both free throws and then a 3 pointer stretched the lead to 7 with 3 minutes left in the game.
Mr. Clutch himself, Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, went on a personal 6-0 run to cut the lead to 1 with just 1:50 left. After a few empty possessions, Isaiah Williams grabbed the rebound off a missed 3 pointer by Lovell Cabbil. Williams was fouled as he attempted the put-back. The redshirt-freshman, who was shooting just 57.4% from the line entering the game, drilled both free throws to give Liberty the 1 point lead with 9 seconds left. After a couple of Ryan Kemrite free throws, the Flames finished the game on a 10-0 run, holding Winthrop scoreless the final 2:36 of game action.
Lovell Cabbil led the way with 19 points on 5/9 shooting from 3. He also added 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Caleb Homesley had 13 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes. Georgie finished with 11 and Williams had 10 points.
Scottie James only played 21 minutes and didn’t have his best game, but he was extremely active in the final 5 plus minutes. He had 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 block in the closing minutes, as he finished the game with 4 points and 6 rebounds.
Liberty shot just 38% from the field on the evening, compared to Winthrop’s 49%. The Flames were 16/18 from the charity stripe and out-rebounded the Eagles 38-27, including a 14-2 edge in offensive boards leading to a 13-2 margin in 2nd chance points.
The Flames move to 3-1 in Big South play and will host Longwood Friday night at 7pm. The Lancers are 1-3 in conference play and 4-13 overall.