On Saturday December 15th, the Liberty Flames downed the Crusaders from Kentucky Christian 96-55. Very early in the first, the Crusaders kept the game close with a few deep 3’s late in the shot clock, but they were no match for the bigger and faster Flames. The Flames kept Kentucky Christian out of the paint for most of the game, and the Crusaders were forced to shoot 3’s or contested layups all afternoon.
Although the Flames lacked intensity on defense in the first half, as a team, the Flames shot 59% from the field and 46% from three. All nine of the Flames that saw action recorded points in the first half, led by Freshman G Darius McGhee with 9 points. Scottie James and Elijah Cuffee both had 8 in the first, and Scottie led the Flames with 6 rebounds.
The Flames had no issues getting into their offensive sets, and open threes were very abundant. Continuing his exceptional shooting, Junior G Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz was 2-2 from behind the arc. After a 12-0 run the Flames pushed the lead to 20 late in the first half, and Junior G Caleb Homesley nearly sank a 3/4 court shot as the first half horn sounded.
The Flames came out more focused on defense in the second half, and the lead never dipped below 18 for the remainder of the game. With 11:14 remaining in the second half the Flames stretched their lead to 30 for the first time, and the pace of the game became too much for the Crusaders of Kentucky Christian. Most of the Flames’ starters played sparingly after the 11 minute mark, and 7’2″ R-Freshman Brendan Newton made his presence felt from the post and on defense.
Sophomore G Keegan McDowell regained his legs after missing the Flames’ victory over South Carolina State on December 11th, sinking 4 second half threes. At the 5 minute mark, Homesley exited the game with a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds. With 1 minute remaining in the game the Flames increased their lead to 40 on a Brendan Newton lay-up.
Both of the game’s leading scorers, Homesley and McGhee with 14 points, have been coming off the bench for most of the season.
The Flames are 7-0 at home this year and improve to 9-2 overall. With one more victory, the Flames will possess the best start in school history.
Official game time was only 1 hour 19 min – significantly shorter than the average game time, around the 2 hour mark.
Liberty held Kentucky Christian to a season low 55 points. The Crusaders have been averaged 78 points against five D1 schools this season.
Liberty returns to action as the Flames travel to Huntsville, Alabama to face the Crimson Tide in the Rocket City Classic. Alabama, the second SEC school the Liberty will face this season, is 6-3 on the season and is coming off a 76-73 win over the University of Arizona. Game time is 8:00 pm.