(Courtesy of Liberty Sports Information)
LYNCHBURG, VA For the fifth time in nine conference victories this season, the Flames overcame a halftime deficit, including a 10-point hole early in the second half, to post a 72-68 victory over visiting Coastal Carolina, Monday evening, at the Vines Center.
In true Liberty versus Coastal Carolina fashion, the game was a close one as the contest marked the 12th time in the last 13 meetings between the two programs that the outcome of the contest was decided by seven or fewer points.Liberty (11-13, 9-4 BSC) took the games first sizeable lead as Leo Lightbourne (Sr., F, Andros, Bahamas) converted on one of two free throw attempts to give the Flames a 6-3 advantage just three minutes into the contest. But the lead would prove to be Libertys only one of the opening period as Coastal Carolina (9-16, 6-7 BSC) quickly responded by scoring nine of the games next 12 points to open up a three-point lead, 12-9, of their own on a Jack Leasure (Fr., G, Rochester, N.Y.) three-pointer with 13:30 left to play in the contest. The three-point basket proved to be quite friendly to the Chanticleers as seven of the teams first eight field goals were from behind the arc, including a trey by Colin Stevens (Jr., G, Phoenix, Md.) to push Coastal Carolinas advantage to six points, 24-18, with 9:52 left in the half. The visitors led by as much as eight points during the remainder of the period as John Burley (Fr., G, Montpelier, Va.) connected on a lay-up at the 3:46 mark, while Coastal Carolina finished the period with a five-point lead, 36-31. Coastal Carolina continued to control the pace of play in the opening minutes of the second half as the Chanticleers took the games largest lead at 10 points, 50-40, as Pele Paeley (Jr., G, Derwood, Md.) converted on 1-of-2 free throw attempts. However, the Flames finally started to find their shooting touch after the free throw attempts as Liberty scored nine-unanswered points to cut the lead to one point, 50-49, on a Doug Stewart (Fr., F, Sanford, N.C.) three-pointer at the 13:05 mark. The contest remained close over the next 10 minutes of action as neither team held more than a three-point lead, but Liberty took the lead for good with 3:36 left to play as David Dees (So., G, Dayton, Ohio) took a feed from Brian Woodson (Sr., G, Herndon, Va.) for a lay-up, was fouled and converted on the free throw attempt to give Liberty a 62-60 edge. Two minutes later, the margin was the same when Glyn Turner (r-Sr., F, Auckland, New Zealand) nailed a jumper with 44 seconds to push the lead to four points, 68-64, while Lightbourne extended the lead to six points with a pair of free throws after Larry Blair (So., G, Charlotte, N.C.) blocked Alvin Greens (Sr., G, Socastee, S.C.) driving lay-up with 34 seconds remaining. The Chanticleers were able to trim the lead to as few as three points over the remainder of the contest, but Liberty was able to stave off any chances for a Coastal Carolina run to secure their hold on second place in the Big South Conference. Dees, who missed a portion of the second half after going down with an ankle injury, led the Flames and missed a career high by one point as the sophomore netted 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line, while Turner and Lighbourne added 11 points. Evan Risher (Fr., G, Fort Worth, Texas) added a 10 points, while Woodson finished with a season-high 10 assists. Coastal Carolina placed three players in double figures as Leasure led the squad with 16 points, Green added 13 points and four steals. Paeley rounded out the double-figurer scorers with 11 points. The Flames will travel to Lexington, Va., to face VMI on Thursday for their next game with a 7 p.m. tip-off set at Cameron Hall, while Coastal Carolina continues their three-game road swing with a game at UNC Asheville on Friday night at 7 p.m.