Liberty defeats Alabama State to end non-conference slate

libertyThe game started with a dunk from Scottie James and Liberty would never relinquished the lead as the Flames closed out the New Orleans Shootout with an 87-70 win over Alabama State.

Liberty ends its non-conference slate with a 9-4 record, the most wins since for a Liberty team since the 2008-09 season during non-conference.

The Flames finish non-conference with the most wins in the Big South, improving from five non-conference wins last year.

Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz led the way for the Flames with a game-high 19 points, seven assists to go along with even rebounds. The Flames shot 53 percent for the game converting 28-53 field goal attempts. The Flames controlled the paint, outscoring Alabama State 32-18 inside the paint. Pulling down eight offensive rebounds, Liberty converted those rebounds into 15 second chance points while limiting ASU to just two points.

“Yesterday was not the result we wanted so today we came in with the mindset that we were going to avoid 0-2,” Pacheco-Ortiz said. “We were mentally prepared for this game and did what we do best.”

Liberty got off to a solid start on offense jumping out to a 10-3 lead sparked by six points from James. Liberty’s defense did not allow Alabama State to make a field goal until the 11:23 mark but the Hornets were able to stay in the game by converting from the free-throw line. The Hornets made their first seven points from the charity stripe.

Taking advantage of the Hornets in the paint, Liberty outscored Alabama State 22-6 in the paint in the first half. As the Flames out-rebounded ASU 20-14, Liberty did not allow its opponent to record any second chance points in the first half.

Seven different players scored for the Flames in the first half led by James with eight points as Liberty went into halftime with a 35-23 lead over the Hornets.

In the second half, Pacheco-Ortiz led the way scoring 12 points, dishing out six assists while grabbing four rebounds. The Flames were efficient on offense, shooting 54 percent (14-26) in the final 20 minutes of action. Liberty continued to dominate the glass as they out-rebounded the Hornets 22-13 in the second half.

Liberty will now go on Christmas break before returning for conference play. The Flames will begin Big South play on the road at Gardner-Webb. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 30, in Boiling Springs, N.C.

“We had tough non-conference games and we came away with some good wins,” Pacheco-Ortiz added. “There are so many good teams in the Big South so we have to be mentally prepared for those games and I think non-conference prepared us for that.”

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