Liberty fell to UNC-Asheville, 70-57, for it’s first Big South loss this season. Here’s our rapid reactions:

  1. Asheville is just the better team and has been the better program for a while now. With the win, the Bulldogs have now won 11 straight games against Liberty with the Flames’ last win coming in 2011.
  2. UNCA is a tough matchup for McKay’s squad. They defend well, with the their press giving Liberty problems. The Bulldogs also provide matchup problems on the offensive end of the floor for Liberty as well. All of Asheville’s players are good passers, including their bigs, so when the Flames double the post, UNCA is able to quickly pass out of the double team, usually for an open shot.
  3. The defending Big South champions typically shoot the ball well and they did so against Liberty. The Bulldogs shot 50% from the field in the first half and were 6/14 from 3 in the opening 20 minutes. Asheville went on to finish the game shooting 47% from the field and Liberty shot 42%.
  4. As has been a topic of some message board debates in recent days, Liberty ranks dead last in the country in offensive rebounds per game. Entering the game against Asheville, the Flames were averaging just under 5 offensive rebounds per game. Against UNCA, Liberty topped that mark with 5 offensive rebounds in the first half. Liberty would, however, finish with just 5 offensive boards.
  5. The difference in the margin was the team’s 3-point shooting percentages. Both teams like to shoot from deep, but UNCA was much more efficient tonight. Asheville connected on 45% of their 20 attempted 3s while Liberty only made 6 of its 24 made 3 pointers for 25%.
  6. Two other areas where the Bulldogs had a noticable advantage was in points off turnovers and bench points. While the Flames only had 11 turnovers to Asheville’s 8, UNCA turned Liberty’s turnovers in to 19 points while the Flames only scored 5 points off the Bulldogs’ turnovers. UNCA also led Liberty, 20-0, in bench points.
  7. The Flames were led by the trio of Ryan Kemrite, John Dawson, and Lovell Cabbil. They combined for 46 points while the rest of the team only combined for just 11 points on the evening. Kemrite, Dawson, and Cabbil combined to shoot 17/31 from the field while the rest of the team was 4/19.
  8. Asheville had 17 assists on their 24 made field goals while Liberty had just 9 assists.
  9. The Flames kept cutting Asheville’s lead to single digits, between 7 and 9 points, but the Bulldogs always found an answer. Down the stretch it was frequently true freshman MaCio Teague who was able to score bucket. He finished the game with 18 points on just 9 field goal attempts.
  10. Liberty returns to action on Saturday as they play host to Campbell for a 2pm tip.

Notable quotes:
Ryan Kemrite – “Asheville does a good job with what they do on defense. They have the length, Ahmad Thomas is really long, he’s very active. It’s something different to play against, something we didn’t face against Presby, Charleston Southern, something we have to do better against in the future.”

Lovell Cabbil – “Through the 4 games we’ve played them in the last 2 years, they’ve just out-effort us and out-toughed us. It’s not really anything they do specifically that’s tough, but they just out-effort us. You can’t win when you get out-effort. I feel like this game we didn’t have a defensive mindset as we did in the last 2 games. On offense, we weren’t sharing the ball enough, we had more turnovers than we did assists.”

John Dawson – “They’ve out-toughed us 4 times, and we’ve got to bring it every night. This is a good team, we can’t bring it like we do against other opponents. They play very good defense and offense, they’re a both sides of the ball team, they rebound very well, they get their shots very well. We didn’t impose our will like we should in any of the 4 games, and it cost us pretty big.”

Coach McKay – “Identity. If you look at the pillars of our program – playing hard, compete, and giving our very best, we over me, playing smart, accountability and discipline – those are the foundation of our program. Tonight, I thought Asheville beat us to every 50/50 ball. I thought it’s indicative of their 17 assists to our 9. I thought they shared it better. I didn’t feel like we had the same urgency that you’re supposed to have when you play at home. As well as we played in the last 10 days – 2 weeks, we didn’t play that way tonight. Asheville deserved to win the game, but we’re not going to be a team that just comes up and down the floor and bangs 3 point jump shots and beat you. We’ll do it with the defensive end, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Coach McKay – “We’re here to try and compete for a conference championship, not just to win a game or two. Until that infiltrates throughout the whole program, from top to bottom, then we’ll just be satisfied with a good effort or a couple of wins. Needless to say, I’m not very satisfied, and hopefully they’ll take a bit out of my disposition.”