The Liberty Flames defeated Maryland Eastern Shore Sunday afternoon, 66-55, in front of 3,090 fans inside the Vines Center.
Scottie James had just three points in Liberty’s season opening win against Radford on Friday night, but he wasted little time surpassing that mark. The ASUN Preseason First-Team All-Conference selection scored Liberty’s first 14 points while making 7-of-8 field goals and grabbing 7 rebounds, all before the first media timeout.
“A little unique,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said of Scottie’s opening act. “I haven’t seen 14 straight in many of the games I’ve ever watched, but we all know what Scottie is capable of. I thought he was as good of a player as there was on the floor today.”
This marks the second time in James’ career that he opened the game scoring Liberty’s first 10 points as he scored the first 10 points for the Flames on February 15, 2018 at UNC-Asheville.
“Caleb (Homesley) did a really good job early finding me for easy buckets, all the guards really,” James said following the game. “It felt good. We were just trying to get great shots. I thought it was good because all my shots were at the rim.”
Maryland Eastern-Shore proved to be a quality test for Liberty as they used their pressure defense to speed up the Liberty tempo. Shooting 60% from the field in the first 13 minutes of game action, the Hawks were able to cut the Flames’ lead to 1 at 21-20.
Darius McGhee was the first Liberty player to score a bucket other than James, as he hit a three-pointer at the 13:07 mark of the first half. He would go on to hit four triples in the opening stanza as the Flames went into the locker room with a 39-27 lead. McGhee hit consecutive three-pointers in the final 94 seconds of first half play.
The Hawks wouldn’t go away as they kept their deficit in the 10-15 point margin for the majority of the second half.
Preseason ASUN Player of the Year Caleb Homesley did not attempt a field goal the first 17 minutes of action, but he did have 5 assists, further evidence of the unselfishness and balanced play on this team. His first points didn’t come until the 7:49 mark of the second half.
McGhee continued his hot shooting into the second half as he finished with 19 points, tying his career high. He also had 19 points last season against Georgetown. He made 5-of-9 three point attempts on the afternoon.
Scottie James finished the game with 22 points and 16 rebounds, marking his 22nd career double-double.
It was balanced scoring in the season opener against Radford that ruled the day as all eight players that got action got in the scoring column. Sunday afternoon the Flames rode the hot shooting of Darius McGhee and Scottie James.
“It could be a different guy every night on our team,” said McKay. “When you recruit the way we’ve recruited hopefully you have complete players, but other guys are way capable. We just take what we’re given. We got some great looks that didn’t go in that may have helped the way we feel about the game.”
Redshirt-freshmen Josh Price and Blake Preston made their collegiate debut. Walk-ons Colton Reed and Tytist Dean also got in the game for their first action in a Liberty uniform.
The 2-0 Liberty Flames will return to action Tuesday evening to take on South Carolina State at 7 p.m.
“I felt like the visiting team played harder than we did,” McKay said of the Hawks. “I feel like we’re a lot better than that effort this afternoon. The hard little things that lead to winning, Maryland Eastern Shore did, and I think we’re a lot better than that. You never accept in victory what you wouldn’t in defeat, and I think we’re way better than we played.”