The Liberty Flames opened their 2018-19 basketball season with a 89-40 win over Maine Fort Kent. It was a sluggish first half start, but the Flames turned it on in the 2nd half to an impressive final margin.
Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz had started 70 consecutive games before coming off the bench tonight. In his place Caleb Homesley began the game at point alongside Lovell Cabbil, Elijah Cuffee, Keenan Gumbs, and Scottie James. Georgie didn’t get the start because he was serving a “not knowing your scouting report penalty” according to McKay.
“I know what we’re going to get in Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz,” said McKay. “I really trust him and I really believe in him, but we have a standard that we’re pursuing as a program. Hopefully we will continue to strive for that.”
The first points of the game came from senior Lovell Cabbil as he knocked down a corner 3. Those points put him over 1,000 points for his career. Cabbil led the team with 10 points in the first 20 minutes of action.
Both teams struggled offensively most of the first half with cold shooting and turnovers. Fort Kent hung tough, as the game was tied at 18 before the Flames went on a 7-0 run late in the first half to seize control of the game. Liberty went into the halftime break with a 29-21 lead despite shooting 25% from 3, 3-of-7 from the charity stripe, and committing 10 turnovers.
“I felt like we were nervous,” McKay said of his team’s lackluster play in the first half. “I didn’t feel like we played anywhere close to what we were capable of. I felt like we tried to hit home runs every time down, and defensively we were way out of character.”
We saw a much more focused Liberty team in the 2nd half, as the Flames came out on a 17-0 run to extend its lead to 55-27 with about 10 minutes left in the 2nd half. The lead would balloon to as much as 51 as the Flames focused on attacking the basket and getting the ball into the paint.
All 11 Flames would go on to score as even Zach Farquhar and Brendan Newton got on the board. Farquhar or Racks, connected on two garbage time three pointers as has become his custom. Newton, the 7’2 redshirt-freshman, got a putback dunk late in the game for his first career basket.
Liberty outscored the Bengals 60-19 in the 2nd half.
“I joked with our guys after the game about eating a Snickers because they weren’t looking like themselves,” McKay quipped. “Sure enough Lovell Cabbil said, ‘I did’, and he pulled out an empty Snickers wrapper. We’re going to have Snickers in the locker room at halftime every game.”
As reported before, Josh Price will redshirt this season as will Blake Preston.
Cabbil led the team with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 3-of-6 from 3.
Scottie James had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He only attempted 5 field goals and got to the free throw line 9 times.
There were 4 Flames that reached double figures as Pacheco-Ortiz and McGhee joined Cabbil and James. Georgie finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 from 3. McGhee had 10 points and 5 rebounds despite shooting just 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3.
Myo had 6 points and 7 boards. Caleb Homesley finished with 7 points and 6 boards. Elijah Cuffee had 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The Flames shot 49.1% from the field and got to the free throw line 28 times.
Liberty returns to action on Tuesday night in the Vines Center when Trevecca Nazarene pays a visit. Trevecca is coached by former Liberty assistant Omar Mance. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 pm and is part of a doubleheader that features the Lady Flames playing host to Virginia Tech at 6pm.