Liberty falls to Winthrop on the road
Liberty’s Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz ended the game with a team-high 15 points while tying a career-high six rebounds. For the second straight game, Winthrop’s Keon Johnson scored 20-plus points with a game-high 24 points.
“That is why they (Winthrop) are a 21-win team. They have a very good team,” head coach Ritchie McKay said. “We are still in that process of becoming a very good team. Our guys battled today but we did some uncharacteristic things.”
The Flames got off to a slow start on offense as Winthrop went on a 12-2 run for the first five and a half minutes of the game. During Winthrop’s run Liberty was 1-of-7 from the floor while Roderick Perkins made two quick three-pointers. The Flames began to lock up on defense, limiting Winthrop to 1-of-5 from the floor after its run.
Liberty made just three field goals during the first 11 minutes, but in latter part of the first half, Pacheco-Ortiz got things going for the Flames. With three straight three-pointers, Pacheco-Ortiz was able to cut Winthrop’s lead to 11 points (31-20) with five and a half minutes left in the half.
Looking to make a run late in the half, the Flames cut the Eagles’ lead to single digits with less than two minutes left off a John Dawson layup. After exchanging baskets to end the half, Liberty would go into half trailing the Eagles 43-32.
Winthrop ended the half shooting 58.6 percent from the floor (17-of-29) led by Keon Johnson and Anders Broman with 11 points each. For the Flames, Pacheco-Ortiz scored a game-high 12 points in the first half to go along with a team-high five rebounds. Despite shooting 38.5 percent in the first 20 minutes (10-of-26), Liberty would end the first half making four of its last five field goals.
Liberty came out in the second half shooting 50 percent (3-of-6) from the floor during the first four minutes to stay within reach of the Eagles. When Liberty looked to trim the lead to single digits, Winthrop would respond with a bucket of its own to hold onto a double-digit lead. Looking to cut into the lead, Liberty held Winthrop without a field goal over a 3:15 span on missing four straight field goals but the Flames were unable to capitalize as they went on a two-minute scoring draught themselves.
As they looked to seal the win late in the game, Winthrop was solid on defense, limiting Liberty to 42.3 percent in the second half (11-of-26) to come away with the win.
Liberty will head home next week for its final home game during the regular season. On Thursday, the Flames will host in-state opponent Longwood. It will be Senior Night, where the Flames will honor Ray Chen and John Dawson. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Vines Center.