The Liberty Flames go on the road and dispatch Lipscomb’s 19 game ASUN win streak with a 74-66 win in Allen Arena to force a tie atop the conference standings at 11-1.
A much better start for the Flames this matchup, as Liberty took an 8-7 lead at the first media timeout. Scottie James was much more productive than in the first game as he grabbed 4 rebounds and scored 4 points before the first media timeout. Scottie had just 5 points and 5 boards in the entire game back on January 29th.
After Lovell Cabbil made all 3 free throws out of the media timeout, Liberty pushed the early lead to 11-7. A Keenan Gumbs steal and bucket plus a foul pushed the lead to 15-7 following a 9-0 run. You may remember the Flames didn’t make a 3 pointer until midway through the 2nd half against Lipscomb back in the Vines Center, Liberty would open 2-of-3 from behind the arc tonight. Meanwhile, Scottie James outpaced his production from that game in the game’s first 7 minutes. He had just 5 points and 5 rebounds on January 29th, but opened this game with 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Lipscomb made it a point to feed Rob Marberry every time down the floor, and understandably so. The senior big man opened with 10 points, but it took him 11 field goal attempts to get there as Scottie James held his own on the defensive end.
Garrison Mathews didn’t take his first field goal attempt, a made 3 pointer near the end of the shot clock, more than 12 minutes into this one. The Preseason ASUN Player of the Year entered the game averaging 19.8 points per game. Eli Pepper picked up his 3rd foul with 4:27 left in the first half, he had 27 points and 14 rebounds in Lipscomb’s last game, Saturday against Jacksonville.
The Flames maintained the lead throughout the majority of the first half, with Lipscomb last leading at the 16:02 mark of the first half. Liberty went on a 7-0 run to push the lead to a game-high 13 points at 38-25. The Flaems went into the halftime break with a 38-27 lead and entered the game 19-1 when leading at the half.
Scottie led the way with 10 points and 7 rebounds while Myo Baxter-Bell provided a nice punch off the bench with 7 points.
Lipscomb hadn’t trailed at halftime of an ASUN game since January 27, 2018 against NJIT. That was 22 games ago.
Scottie James opened the 2nd half the same way he played in the first, with an offensive rebound and putback. He had the team’s first 4 points of the half as Liberty pushed the lead to as high as 16 in the opening minutes of the half. As we all expected, Lipscomb wasn’t going to go away without a fight. The Bisons quickly push the Liberty lead back to single digits at 48-42 following an 8-0 run.
Darius McGhee ended the run with a nice pull-up at the free throw line. Caleb Homesley then went to work with a couple of nice buckets, including a drive to the bucket that finishes with a dunk. Both teams continued to trade buckets for several minutes as the lead went back and forth from 8-to-10 points.
Myo Baxter-Bell continued his strong play, as he got into the paint and scored a couple more baskets. With 11 points at the 8 minute mark of the 2nd half, he set a season-high ad pushed the Flames to a 60-46 lead.
Lipscomb cut it to 4 on the heels of a 10-0 run. With the crowd on its feet and as loud as it had been all night, Lovell Cabbil got into the lane to end the run as Coach McKay called a timeout with the Flames’ leading, 62-56, with 5:19 left.
The Bisons would cut it to 2 with just 90 seconds to play in the game. The Flames would finish the game on a 12-2 run. The biggest shot of the game for Liberty was a 3-pointer by McGhee with 1:15 left in the game to push the Flames back up to a 5 point lead. From there, Cabbil would score the team’s final 7 points, all from the free throw line.
“It’s the work that you put in each day,” the true freshman McGhee said of his big shot. “You just stay confident and take a shot like it’s any other shot. Luckily, I was open because they were in the trap then. Shoutout to Caleb for making the extra pass because he was just as open. He made the pass and I was open.”
“We just thought we had to be a tougher team than we were last time,” Cabbil said. “We thought they out-toughed us (last time). We had to do what we do – play defense. I think we made it tough for them all night, and we were able to get the result that we wanted.”
Lipscomb shot just 36.8% from the field, but they utilized a +5 advantage on the free throw line to keep the game close.
Liberty shot 49.1% from the field and finished just 6-of-21 from 3 and 16-of-23 from the charity stripe.
5 Flames reached double figures led by Lovell Cabbil’s 16 points as he made 11 free throws. Scottie James added 15 points and 9 rebounds, while Caleb Homesley added a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Myo Baxter-Bell had 11 and Darius McGhee finished with 10 points off the bench.
Liberty stays on the road and heads just two hours south to Florence, Alabama where the Flames will take on North Alabama on Saturday at 4:30.
If Liberty and Lipscomb end up tied, and the tie-breaker can’t be broken any other way, it goes to final NET ranking. That will likely only happen if both teams win out and are 15-1, which is likely. Entering tonight’s game, Lipscomb had a NET ranking of 30 and Liberty was 61.