DELAND, Fla. – Liberty dropped its second straight ASUN contest as Stetson defeated the Flames 48-43. Liberty sits in a three-way tie for first place in the ASUN at 5-2 along with North Florida and Stetson. The Flames are now 19-3 this season while Stetson improves to 11-11.
Liberty’s offense got in a groove early, shooting 50% (5-10) in its first 10 first possessions while Stetson made just one field goal in its first 10 shots of the game. Mahamadou Diawara kept Stetson alive early in the first half scoring seven of his team’s first nine points. Darius McGhee led the charge for Liberty’s offense scoring 12 of Liberty’s 19 points with four makes from three-point range. Liberty’s defense would continue to frustrate Stetson in the first half, holding the Hatters to just seven made field goals as Liberty went into the break with a 29-18 lead.
Stetson opened the second half on a 13-3 run to come within one point (32-31) with 13 minutes left in the game. Liberty responded by holding Stetson scoreless for nearly five minutes, but the Hatters were able to stay in the game and eventually take their first lead at the 5:31-mark at 37-36. Stetson’s largest lead would be five points (43-38) with 2:44 left in the game. Liberty would never be able to recover as they struggled from the field all throughout the second half, making just six field goals in the second half.
Key Stats & Notes
· This is Liberty’s first back-to-back losses in the ASUN and first since Feb. 22, 2018.
· Liberty shot a season-low 33 percent from the field.
· Scottie James became the sixth player in school history to grab 800 career rebounds.
· James recorded his fourth double-double of the season and 25th of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
· After scoring 12 points in the first half, Darius McGhee was held scoreless without attempting a shot in the 2nd half.
· Elijah Cuffee dished out a career-high seven assists.
· Stetson’s 18 points in the first half was the second fewest points the Hatters have scored in a half this season (14 points at Ohio State).
· This was Liberty’s first loss this season when leading at half.
· Stetson outscored Liberty 24-16 inside the paint.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
"Give credit to Stetson tonight. We are now 5-2 in the league with our goals still in front of us. We got good looks tonight that didn’t go down for us but we also have to get stops on the other end.”
Liberty will return home next week for two games at the Vines Center starting against Kennesaw State on Thursday, Jan. 30. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.