Men’s basketball: Liberty defense stifles Clarks Summit in 81-33 win

libertyLiberty got back to its winning ways with an impressive defensive performance over Clarks Summit behind a double-double from Myo Baxter-Bell and a career-high in points from Brock Gardner. Baxter-Bell gave Liberty the lead two minutes into the game and the Flames never looked back, defeating Clarks Summit 81-33 to improve to 5-6 on the season.

Ten of the 11 players that saw playing time on the court scored for the Flames tonight, led by Gardner with 18 points, shooting 6-7 from the field along with four rebounds. The Flames dominated in the paint, outscoring the Defenders 38-6.

Gardner got off to a hot start, scoring five points in the first five minutes of play but Clarks Summit attempted to make a comeback, coming within one point, 9-8, at the 14:46 mark. The Flames responded with a 10-0 run over the course of five minutes to give themselves an 11-point cushion, 19-8.

Gardner matched his career-high in points in just the first half with nine points to go along with three rebounds, an assist and one block. The Flames would hold onto the 11-point lead after a Ryan Hiepler layup with eight seconds left on the clock to go into half with the 32-21 lead.

Twenty-one points, was the second fewest amount of points Liberty has held an opponent in the first half this season, just one point higher when the Flames held Furman to 20 points on Dec. 6. Not only did the Flames play exceptional defense in the first 20 minutes of play, but they also capitalized off turnovers, scoring 14 points off 10 Clarks Summit’s turnovers.

Liberty could not have asked for a better start to the second half as they went on a 14-0 run in the first 6:57 of the second half to take extend its lead to 46-21 over the Defenders. Baxter-Bell was sizzling in the first five minutes of the second half, scoring seven points and pulling down five rebounds, to record his first career double-double within the first five minutes of the second half.

The Flames were able to hold Clarks Summit to just 12 points in the second, the fewest points allowed this season by a wide margin with 26 points being the previous low against Cairn and Central Penn.

The Flames will return to action on Monday, Dec. 19 when they travel to Texas for two games beginning with Lamar. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (EST) against the Cardinals.

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