Liberty (3-3) extended its home win streak to 39 straight as the Flames out-lasted Maryland Eastern Shore, 73-61, on Saturday evening in front of 3,000 fans at Liberty Arena.
The Flames led by as many as 15 in the first half and looked like it was going to coast to an easy win. That didn’t happen as the Hawks quickly cut into the Liberty lead, trailed by as few 1 in the second half. Liberty would be able to create some separation in the closing minutes to finish with a comfortable win.
“I knew going in that this was going to be a tough one,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said. “I’ve watched Maryland Eastern Shore play great against Temple, St. Joe’s, Fordham, and even played decent against Campbell. I knew we were in for a game not a typical early season game that you play a school that you think you can just get a W. We told our guys this will be a very competitive game because they won’t quit. I was really proud of our group in the second half. I thought we had a defensive consistency towards the end there that looked more like ourselves. Obviously, we’ve got a team that shares the ball and had some great looks but didn’t quite clip what we’re capable of offensively but happy with the outcome.”
The Flames remain at home with its most notable home game in the brief history of Liberty Arena as Missouri comes to Lynchburg. Liberty will host the Tigers with the game scheduled for this coming Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. on ESPN+. Missouri is currently 3-3 on the season before their game at home on Monday against Paul Quinn.
Here are our three main takeaways from today’s game:
MCGHEE AND MCDOWELL PROVIDE THE OFFENSE
For the second straight game, it was Darius McGhee and Keegan McDowell who provided the offensive punch the Flames needed. The two combined for 35 points on the evening. Darius was just 1 of 9 from three-point range but he was able to get into the paint and to the basket to create his own shot as he made 7 of 9 from inside the three point line. McDowell had 16 points and made 4 of 7 from the field including 3 of 6 from behind the arc. He also made all five of his free throw attempts.
“He’s really good,” McKay said of McGhee. “They are taking stuff away. We all see on a regular basis how good of a shooter he is, so his three point percentage doesn’t panic us, but I think that you see his completeness when he is able to get to the hole. When he’s shooting like (he did against Bethune Cookman) and can get to the hole and create for others, we are a tough guard defensively. It will come together. We are still growing as a group, but I think Darius has a unique ability to get to the basket and to shoot with range.”
SHILOH WITH A CAREER HIGH
Coming off the bench, Liberty forward Shiloh Robinson had his best offensive performance of his career. The 6’7″ junior finished with a career-high 13 points to go along with a team-high 7 rebounds. Robinson’s strength is from the defensive end of the floor where he has the ability to be a high level defender, but if he can affect the game on the offensive floor he has a chance to be an all-conference performer.
“Shiloh is incredibly selfless,” said McKay. “He plays starters minutes because he deserves to start. I think he continues to evolve as a player, and is a factor in the game. You can see it. You can pick up quickly how much he makes a difference when he’s out there.”
FLAMES ARE STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
We mentioned this over the past couple of games, but it continues to be the case and should be pointed out. This is a young team still trying to figure out who should be the primary rotation and go to players. There are several key roles which still need to be carved out. These last two wins help the team build some confidence going into Thursday night’s game against Missouri. At the end of the day, all that matters is conference play and ultimately the conference tournament. The team can continue to build for that point.