Liberty came into Williamsburg Tuesday night and shot the ball well, but defensive lapses in the second half cost the Flames, as Liberty dropped their Division 1 opener by a score of 84-72 against William and Mary. Liberty got out to an early lead, paced by three point shooting from John Caleb Sanders and Davon Marshall. However, the Flames were unable to keep William and Mary’s Princeton offense off the board, and the Tribe took a 34-32 lead at the half.
Coming into the game, Liberty knew it would need to contain William and Mary Guard Marcus Thornton. The Flames did a solid job of keeping Thornton at bay for much of the game, however the Tribe’s star player was able to create match up problems at times and ended the game with 23 points. The player that really broke through and took Liberty out of this game was Freshman Omar Prewitt, who came in off the bench to contribute 18 points, including 11 in the second half.
Liberty benefited from a strong performance by Senior Antwan Burrus, who finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds, as well as 12 points each from Guards Davon Marshall and John Caleb Sanders. All 12 of Marshall’s points came from 3-point land, as the starting 1-Guard was 4-9 from behind the arc. Marshall drew a tough match up against 6’4″ Marcus Thornton, who was able to block 2 of Davon’s attempts.
William and Mary was able to shoot better than 60% on the game, with a gaudy 68% from the field in the second half. Liberty appeared to struggle with the Princeton style offense throughout the game, but the holes in the Flames’ defense became more apparent as the game wore on. The Tribe were able to confuse Liberty’s zone match ups, stacking players to one side and switching, creating tons of easy buckets down low.
Liberty held a 5 point lead with less than 14 minutes remaining in the game, however William and Mary was able to regain the lead with less than 10 minutes to go, and never looked back, going on an eventual 14-2 run to stretch their lead. The Flames shot 46.7% on the game, and 40% from behind the arc, but the defensive effort was insufficient to keep the team in this one late. Much like last season, this team looks like it will need to keep games in the 60 point range to have a chance to win consistently. Moreover, you aren’t going to win many games allowing the opponent to shoot 60% from the field.
Liberty falls to 1-1 on the season. The Flames host Western Carolina on Saturday at 7:30 PM in the Vines Center.