After a tough beginning to the first three games of the team’s four-game trip away from home, Liberty (1-4) able to get back into the win column, picking up its first win over a Division I team so far this season as the Flames dispatched Bethune-Cookman, 59-51. The win ends a three game losing streak for Liberty.

The Wildcats took an early lead at 4-2 and led for much of the first half. Liberty trailed by as much as seven at 19-12 midway through the first half. The Flames went on a 14-2 run to take a 26-21 lead late in the first half. The Flames would take a 34-29 lead into the locker room at the break and would not look back in the second half.

“This was one of those games where you could let the previous game affect the way you play,” said Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay. “I think our older guys kinda got us out of the funk when we were down 19-12 and we started being a little tougher defensively, taking care of the ball better. I don’t think we finished as well as we could have, but happy to come away with the win.”

After four straight away from home, Liberty will finally return to the friendly confines of Liberty Arena this Saturday. The Flames will take on Maryland Eastern-Shore at 5 p.m. with no television or stream of the game. Be sure to make the Liberty Athletics double-header on Saturday with the football game against Army at noon and then head on over to Liberty Arena.

Here are our three main takeaways from today’s game:


With the team coming off a tough three-game stretch and struggling in the opening minutes, things were looking bleak for the Flames and it would have been easy to have been discouraged. That’s when Keegan McDowell stepped up and gave the team a much needed spark in the first half to get the team back on track.

The redshirt-senior guard would score eight straight and had nine points in Liberty’s first half run when the team took the lead. McDowell would go on to score 17 points in the game, all of them coming in the first half when he made a career high five three pointers.

“Keegan has been great,” said McKay. “He’s shooting the ball really well. He’s really improved defensively, and I just think his leadership and overall connectivity that he inspires, I think it has really helped us through his little rough patch. We don’t look like ourselves yet. We’re capable of playing more efficiently on both ends, but Keegan has certainly been really consistent and definitely kind of broke the shooting woes by knocking down a couple of threes.”


Where McDowell left off in the first half, reigning ASUN Player of the Year Darius McGhee picked up in the second half. McGhee, who has been struggling to find his range for much of the past three games, continued his cold shooting slump in the first 20 minutes. He would break out in a big way after the halftime break.

The senior guard scored 18 points in the second half, making 7 of 9 field goals and four of six from three-point range. He would finish the game with 27 points while making 9 of 17 field goals and 6 of 12 from three.

“I don’t really worry about Darius McGhee and his shooting prowess or accuracy,” McKay stated. “I’m really confident in his ability to make shots. I think his biggest charge is how does he pick and choose his moments. Sometimes he needs to play-make more because of the way people guard him, and sometimes he needs to fight through his own interference that comes his way when he misses shots or a poor percentage start. Darius McGhee is one of the best players in the country, in my opinion. I’m not surprised that he went 6 of 12 from three tonight. Is it important to our cause? Yeah, he’s one of the best players that has ever put on a Liberty uniform, so yeah it’s absolutely important.”


The final margin might have been closer than what Liberty would have preferred and the previous three games might not have ended how the Flames wanted, but it is a win. The team can build from here and begin to instill some confidence in themselves. Liberty now returns home to face a team it will be a heavy favorite against before taking on Missouri in a big home tilt on Dec. 2.