Playing on his birthday, Tomasz Gielo had a career high 20 points

Playing on his birthday, Tomasz Gielo had a career high 20 points

Playing without leading scorer Antwan Burrus, the Flames fell to Princeton 80-74.

Liberty jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, and led 9-6 at the first media timeout against a very game Princeton squad. The Tigers would take their first lead of the game at 17-14 with 12:11 left in the 1st half after a 3-pointer by Spencer Weisz. The Weisz 3 was part of a 15-0 run which gave Princeton a 26-14 lead midway through the 1st half. John Caleb Sanders and Tomasz Gielo helped keep the Flames in the game early as the pair combined for 20 of Liberty’s first 26 points to keep the Flames within 5 with 3 minutes to play in the first half.

In the final 3 minutes of the first half, the teams would stay competitive as Princeton went into the break with a 38-31 halftime lead. Liberty was led by John Caleb Sanders’ 13 points and Tomasz Geilo’s 9 points. Davon Marshall continued his cold shooting as he was 0 of 4 from the field and 0 of 2 from 3 in the 1st half.

The Tigers were led by T.J. Bray’s 16 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 3 of 4 from 3-point range. His only miss came in the Tigers last possession of the half on a 3-pointer from NBA range. Both Liberty and Princeton shot 50% or better from the field in the first 20 minutes with the Tigers also shooting 7 of 13 from 3.

Davon Marshall came out firing in the 2nd half though as last season’s Big South Tournament MVP hit two 3-pointers and 1 of 2 free throws in the first 2:21 of the 2nd half to bring the Flames with 1 at 44-43. The Flames would take the 47-46  lead on a layup by John Caleb Sanders with 15:10 left in the game. The Tigers missed 6 straight field goals until a made layup in transition by Hans Brase at the 12: 25 mark to bring Princeton with 4.

Princeton also missed their first 10 3-point field goal attempts to open the 2nd half as the Flames opened up a 7 point lead at 57-50, but the Tigers would respond with a 3 point bucket by Ben Hazel that sparked a 10-0 run to give Princeton the lead back at 60-57. Marshall responded with a 3 and then a Gielo bucket admist a triple team in the paint as the Flames regained the lead at 62-60 with 5 minutes to play.

But from then on it was all Princeton as the Tigers outscored the Flames 16-10 in the final 3:47. The key possession that swung the game into Princeton’s’ favor came with just more than 1 minute to play in the game. With the Flames trailing by 1 and nearly 2 minutes left in the game, Princeton’s T.J. Bray got in the paint and scored over JC Sanders and got fouled. Bray would miss the free throw and as Joel Vander Pol appeared to gain control of the rebound, he was called for his 5th foul. This would send Will Barrett to the line who made the first and missed the 2nd, but Hans Brase gained the rebound off the miss free throw. After the Tigers took 30 seconds off the clock, Brase would make a layup to give Princeton a 6 point lead with just 1:19 play. A 5 point possession.

Liberty returns to action Wednesday night as they open Big South play against Radford.

Box Score