Liberty made it interesting for a half, but got blitzed in the 2nd half as they fell to UVA 75-53. The Flames are now 1-4 on the season.
Coach Dale Layer used a new starting lineup as he attempted to jumpstart the Flames after 3 consecutive losses. Layer inserted the high energy Drew Smith into the starting lineup in the place of Antwan Burrus. Virginia led from the outset and by as much as 32 late in the 2nd half, but Liberty kept it close much of the first half behind the hot shooting of Davon Marshall.
Marshall had 11 of his team-high 15 points in the first half including three 3-pointers as Liberty trailed by just 6 at the break, 32-26. Even more surprising than the close score at the break, was the fact that the undersized Flames were outrebounding the ACC Cavaliers 18-14 at half.
Everything would change in the 2nd half though. Virginia picked up their defensive intensity as Liberty didn’t even score until over 4 minutes into the 2nd half and only had 5 points in the first 14 minutes of the 2nd half. During this time, Virginia extended the lead from 32-26 to 60-31. That’s a 28-5 run to start the half, and by time it was over Virginia had emptied their bench. The Cavaliers showed their muscle as they outrebounded the Flames 21-10 in the 2nd stanza.
Liberty finished the game shooting 38.6% from the field and 7/14 from beyond the arc. The Flames were a perfect 12-of-12 from the free thrown line. Liberty had 19 turnovers on the afternoon, and Virginia outscore the Flames 33-12 on points off turnovers.
John Caleb Sanders had a rough go of it in the 1st half. The senior guard had 0 points on just 1 attempted field goal. He would bounce back in the 2nd half and finish with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. The long Virginia guards seemed to really bother the 6’0″ Sanders.
Antwan Burrus seemed to have difficulty with Virginia’s length inside, but the senior forward did finish with 12 points (2nd on the team) on 5/10 shooting.
Tomasz Gielo knocked down the only 2 three point field goals he attempted. The Poland native finished with 6 points and a team-high 5 rebounds.
Virginia was paced by Anthony Gill’s 13 points and Malcom Brogdon’s 12 as they improved to 4-1.
Liberty returns to action Tuesday night as they head to Springfield, Missouri to take on Missouri State at 8pm.