Liberty puts away pesky Delta Devils
Liberty matched its season high, hitting 14 three-pointers, which allowed the Flames to pull away in the second half and secure a 70-55 win over Mississippi Valley State, Wednesday afternoon, in the Vines Center.
Liberty, winners of two in a row, now stands at 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Indiana Classic. Mississippi Valley State is 0-6 on the year and is 0-2 in the Indiana Classic after suffering a 76-71 loss to UMass Lowell in the Vines Center, last night.
For the second game in a row, Liberty knocked down 14 three-pointers, shooting a season-best 53.8 percent from behind the arc (14-of-26). Eight of the team’s 14 treys came during the final 20 minutes of play.
Liberty was paced by Caleb Homesley who scored a career-high 22 points, including 17 second-half points. He finished the game shooting 9-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point range. Ryan Kemrite matched his season high with 21 points, scoring all of his points from behind the arc (7-of-10).
Homesley, who also led the team with six rebounds, and Kemrite accounted for 43 of the team’s 70 points. Ezra Talbert came off the bench to score a season best eight points.
Mississippi Valley State’s Rashaan Surles led all scorers in the game, netting 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, including 2-of-5 from three-point range and 4-of-5 from the line. Darrell Riley followed with 14 points off the bench, while Michael Matlock tied for game-high honors with six rebounds.
The game remained a two-possession contest until after the eight-minute media timeout with the Flames leading all but 1:16 of the first 12 minutes of play.
An old-fashion three-point play from Myo Baxter-Bell at the 7:50 mark gave the Flames their largest lead during the early part of the contest, pushing Liberty’s edge to six points, 22-16.
A pair of lay-ups by Surles at 5:24 and 4:34 trimmed the lead back to two for the home squad, 22-20. However, that was as close as the Delta Devils would get the rest of the half, with Liberty scored eight of the final 10 points of the opening 20 minutes of play.
Homesley started the spurt with a three ball from the top of the key at 3:34, while Kemrite took an in-bound pass from Xzavier Barmore at 1:51 and hit a three-pointer from the wing.
John Dawson hit a driving layup 43 seconds later, capping the 8-0 run for the Flames. Mississippi Valley State’s 5-10 guard Darrell Riley stopped the surge, dicing through Liberty’s larger defenders in the lane for a layup with 37 second remaining to finish the first half of play.
The Flames shot 45.8 percent from the field (11-of-24), including 40.0 percent from three-point range (6-of-15). Kemrite led Liberty’s scoring effort in the first half with nine points.
The Delta Devils hit 40.9 percent from the field (9-of-22), including 2-of-5 from three-point land (40.0 percent). Surles (eight points) and Riley (seven points) paced the visitors.
Kemrite started the second half right where he left off heading into the locker room at the break. The junior came off a pick on an in-bound play, taking a pass from Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz and knocking down a three-pointer 15 seconds into the period.
Three of Liberty’s next four baskets were from long range, including a trey from Kemrite at 14:21 to push Liberty’s lead to 13 points, 44-31.
The two teams traded baskets during the next seven minutes of play, keeping the visitors in the game. A pair of free throws from Surles at 8:19 and a lay-up by Kylan Phillips at 7:58 trimmed Liberty’s lead to nine points, 54-45.
However, the Flames went on a 12-2 run to put the game out of reach. The scoring streak was capped by a long-range three from Homesley as the shot clock expired a 4:40 and a lay-up by the sophomore at the 3:41 mark to put the Flames up by 19 points, 66-47.
The Flames return to action on Saturday when they travel across the Commonwealth of Virginia to face the Tribe of William & Mary. Tipoff from Kaplan Arena is slated for 4 p.m.