The Flames drop to 0-5 in away games on the season after a tough loss to Furman last night. Burrus came up big once again for the Flames with 19 points and 7 rebounds, but it would be Furman’s Stephen Croone who would steal the show.
Croone, who was already averaging 19.3 points per game, posted 40 points and 11 rebounds. Amazingly, he was able to do this on only 16 shots, going 11/16 from the field while adding 13 free throws. The efficient sophomore was perfect in the first half, going 7-7.
Despite the career game from Croone, the Flames were able to battle back from a 22 point second half deficit and give themselves a chance at the end. Down the stretch, the Paladins began to choke at the line and finished the night 22-37. Antwan Burrus scored in back to back possessions to make the score 83-85 with :39 seconds to go.
After a defensive stop, Tomasz Gielo was called for walking on a good hustle play where he could not retrieve the ball without sliding. That would be tragic for the Flames, but they would get the ball back down 3 with .6 seconds. On the inbounds, John Caleb Sanders seemed to be pushed from behind, and it sounded as if one of the refs called the foul, but another ref emphatically waived the game to be over. Without discussion, the game was called.
Though the ending was very questionable, keep in mind that the Flames were down 3 points. It would have been near impossible for a foul call to affect the outcome.
Liberty had four players tally at least 15 points in the loss. Gielo 16, Sanders 15, and Burrus 19 all had nice games for the Flames, and Joe Retic really came on as well. Retic looked much different than the turnover prone guard we saw at the beginning of the year and scored 15 points and 3 assists with some impressive drives to the basket. Meanwhile, Davon Marshall disappeared, going 0/8 from the field and shockingly not scoring a point all night. Marshall lacked his usual shooting confidence.
The Flames D was starting to look really stout recently until they gave up 86 points last night. The 86-83 final was somewhat surprising from two teams that are 328th and 331st in average possession length.
Liberty will have an 8 day break before they get a chance to rebound against Southeastern back in Lynchburg.