For the first time since March 24th Liberty loses a basketball game as the Flames fall, 74-57, to LSU. WIth the loss Liberty falls to 14-1 on the season.
The Flames were one of the final three unbeaten teams in the country, alongside Auburn and San Diego State, before the loss.
Darius McGhee started off the scoring with a three pointer from the left wing on the Flames’ first possession of the game, giving Liberty an early 3-0 lead. All of Liberty’s first six field goal attempts were from three-point range as LSU felt content to give the Flames good looks.
Both teams continued to try to feel each other out in the opening minutes of the first half. The Tigers utilized full court pressure to try speed Liberty up, as has become normal over the past couple of seasons against McKay’s team. It forced the Flames into a couple turnovers, but on one possession Liberty broke it with ease as Kyle Rode found a crease in the middle of the zone and made a beautiful move and pass to find a wide open Scottie James under the basket.
LSU showed their strength on the glass, but struggled from the floor as they shot 7-of-19 from the field in the opening minutes as Liberty held a 17-16 lead with 7:30 left in the first 20 minutes.
McGhee continued to pace the Flames on offense as his three pointer at the 3:18 mark of the first half gave Liberty a 24-23 lead. The Tigers would close the half on a 9-2 run as they made five straight shots to take a 32-26 lead into the break.
Will Wade’s squad dominated in points in the paint (20-8) and on the glass (19-12). LSU also led in points off turnovers, 8-0.
After quiet first halves, Caleb Homesley and Scottie James woke up in the opening minutes of the second half. They combined to score Liberty’s first nine points after intermission, but the Tigers kept pace, as they led 41-35 at the first media timeout of the second half.
LSU continued to take advantage of Liberty’s miscues, as they outpaced the Flames 15-0 in points off turnovers to push their lead to a game-high 9 points at the 13:33 mark of the second half.
The Tigers would continue to put separation between the two teams as a 14-2 run opened the score up to 55-39, Liberty’s largest deficit of the season. The Flames looked out of sorts on offense, forcing bad shots early in the shot clock and turning the ball over frequently.
There was an extended delay of approximately 12 minutes when one of the nets became unhooked from the rim midway through the second half.
The delay helped the Flames as Liberty went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 8 with 7 minutes left. LSU would respond to get the game back over double figures.
Four Flames reached double figures on the afternoon, led by McGhee and James who had 12 points each. Pacheco-Ortiz added 11 while Homesley had 10.
LSU dominated in the paint (46-20) and points off turnovers (23-0). The Flames had 13 turnovers in the game, a season high.
Liberty now turns its attention to conference play as the Flames begin ASUN play on the road for two straight beginning Thursday night at Florida Gulf Coast.