Liberty lets first half lead slip at High Point

liberty basketballLiberty let a 13-point lead in the first half slip away in the second half as the Flames fell on the road to High Point 71-60. The Flames drop to 12-8 overall and 3-4 in the Big South while High Point improves to 9-9 and 4-3 in conference.

“We will continue to search for the right lineups and the right people in order to play for a complete 40 minutes,” head coach Ritchie McKay said.

The duo of Jahaad Proctor and Andre Fox proved to be the difference as the two combined for 48 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Proctor led all scorers with 24 points while Myo Baxter-Bell led Liberty with 17 points. Scottie James posted his ninth double-digit rebounding game of the season with 10 boards.

After six assists and just four turnovers in the first half, High Point’s defensive pressure in the second half affected the Flames as they were limited to two assists in the second half while committing eight turnovers. After trailing by 10 points at the end of the first half, High Point outscored the Flames 46-25 in the final 20 minutes as Proctor scored 17 points and Fox added 16 in the second half.

The combination of Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz and Baxter-Bell got things going for Liberty’s offense scoring the team’s first 13 points of the game. Pacheco-Ortiz recorded Liberty’s first five points along with three rebounds in the first five minutes of the game. The Flames then went on a 9-0 run to jump out to an 11-2 lead sparked by four straight points and an assist from Baxter-Bell in his first two minutes of playing time.

Attacking the paint early in the game, Liberty was able to outscore the Panthers 22-10 inside the paint in the first half. While the offense was in a rhythm, the Flames’ defense was efficient forcing eight turnovers and converted that into 12 points. Led by James with six rebounds in the first half, the Flames were able to out-rebound the Panthers 16-11 in the first half.

As Baxter-Bell (11) and Pacheco-Ortiz (10) combined for 21 points in the first half, Liberty went into halftime with a 35-25 lead. The Flames ended the first half shooting 54 percent (15-28) from the field while limiting High Point to 44 percent (10-23).

High Point came out of halftime attacking on offense and applying full court pressure on defense that resulted into cutting Liberty’s lead into single digits. By the first media timeout, High Point went on a 9-0 run to come within four points (38-34) of Liberty’s lead.

At the 11-minute mark High Point tied the game (45-45) off a Fox three-pointer and then took the lead on the next possession with a layup from Ricky Madison. The Panthers continued to attack on offense as they went on an 18-3 run to hold their biggest lead of the game (54-47) at the time with just under eight minutes left in the game. Once grabbing the lead, High Point was able to maintain the lead allowing just four second chance points in the second half and eight points inside the paint.

The Flames will close out their three-game weekend at home this Sunday against UNC Asheville. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Vines Center.


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