Liberty comeback falls short against Fort Wayne

liberty basketballAfter a sluggish start for Liberty to open the New Orleans Shootout, the Flames made it a ballgame with an offensive surge in the second half, but it wasn’t enough, as the Flames fell to Fort Wayne (9-5) to open the New Orleans Shootout, 75-64.

The Flames fall to 8-4 on the year.

“This was the second time this season where we allowed a team to jump out to a big lead, but we didn’t panic because our guys have a high level of character and resilience,” head coach Ritchie McKay said. “Fort Wayne is a really good team and played with a lot of confidence, so to spot them 20 points is a hill that was too big to overcome.”

In his first start of the season, Caleb Homesley delivered with 14 points, four assists and two rebounds. Scottie James posted his fourth double-double of the season with 15 points along with a game-high 12 rebounds. Lovell Cabbil, James and Ryan Kemrite led the Flames in scoring with 15 points each.

After trailing by 20 points (47-20) in the first half, Liberty opened the second half on a 25-8 run to come within three points (55-52) with 6:45 left in the game. The Flames were unable to get any closer to Fort Wayne’s lead as they get its lead back to single digits to come away with the victory.

Liberty outscored Forty Wayne 37-28 in the second half led by Cabbil with 11 points, the most from any player in the second half. While limiting the Mastadons to 40.9 percent (9-of-22) the Flames were efficient from the floor, converting 13-of-24 field goals to shoot 54.2 percent in the half. James nearly pulled off a double-double in the second half alone with nine points and nine rebounds.

Fort Wayne started the first half and ended the half with large runs to help build a lead that Liberty was unable to come back from. A combination of three-pointers and trips to the free throw line was a recipe of success for the Mastadons in the first half, as they shot 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from beyond the arc in the first half while converting 15 free throws.

The Mastadons got off to a hot start to open the game, starting the game on a 14-4 run. Getting Liberty’s offense back in a groove to get back into the game was a combination of Caleb Homesley and Scottie James. In the first 10 minutes of action, the two combined for 12 points (six points each) as James had all six of his points in the paint while Homesley drilled a pair of three-pointers. Sparked by its defense, Liberty cut Fort Wayne’s from 14 points to five points (26-21) over a five minute span.

As soon as the Flames came within reaching distance of Fort Wayne’s lead, the Mastadons responded with a 21-6 run for their biggest lead of the game 47-27, to end the first half.

Liberty struggled from the field in the first half shooting 33.3 percent (9-of-27) and just 25 percent (3-of-12) from three-point range.

Liberty will wrap up the New Orleans Shootout against the loser of the Alabama State vs. Louisiana Tech matchup. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. EST time on Friday at the Xavier Convocation Center.

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