Liberty (11-6, 2-0) utilized a smothering defense to defeat North Florida (4-12, 0-3) on Tuesday night, 71-56. With the win, the Flames extend its program record home win streak to 43 straight.
“I thought it was a good performance, especially on the defensive end,” said Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay. “I liked the way we shared the ball. Individually, Shiloh and Kyle had great nights on both ends of the floor. North Florida plays really unconventionally. I was pleased with our response.”
The Ospreys didn’t go down without a fight, but Liberty utilized an 16-4 run in the second half to push the lead to double figures at 51-35. The Flames would hold the comfortable lead for the duration of the half. Three players would reach double figures for the Flames, led by Shiloh Robinson with 21, Darius McGhee added 18, and Keegan McDowell chipped in 10.
Liberty is scheduled to hit the road for a brief one game road trip to Fort Myers, Florida as the Flames tangle with Florida Gulf Coast this coming Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.
Here are our three main takeaways from today’s game:
DEFENSE LEADS THE WAY
Liberty always prides itself on the defensive end of the floor, and on Tuesday against the Ospreys that was no different. North Florida was unable to find any consistency on the offense, as Liberty held them to 31.6% shooting from the field and was just 5 of 25 from behind the three-point line.
“They didn’t have (Jose) Placer,” said McKay. “He’s such a critical part to their offensive equation. I do think we made it tough on them defensively. We responded really well when they cut it to four in the second half. North Florida is always going to be a tough out. I’m just telling you guys. They believe in his system. He empowers his players. They’ve got a good system, and they are really well coached. I don’t look at the margin of the victory, I’m more interested in the way we handle the adversity that is going to happen in the games against the Ospreys.”
FLAMES TAKE ADVANTAGE AT FREE THROW LINE
While UNF had struggles offensively throughout the night, Liberty got off to an equally slow start. The Flames, however, were able to get to the free throw line early and often. LU finished the game 25 of 30 from the charity stripe. It was one of the best performances for the team at the free throw line this season. The most free throws Liberty had attempted in a game previously this season was 28 against Stanford. The Flames made 20 of those attempts that night in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic.
MCGHEE AND ROBINSON PACE THE FLAMES
In what is becoming a common occurrence, Darius McGhee and Shiloh Robinson did most of the heavy lifting for Liberty on offense. Darius McGhee scored 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting . In doing so, he passed Lovell Cabbil for No.14 on the program’s all-time scoring list. He also had 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
Shiloh Robinson scored 21 points, setting a new career-high. His previous career high of 16 points was set last week at Stetson. Robinson made 5 of 7 from the field, including his only made three pointer. He also got to the free throw line 11 times, making 10 of them.