Liberty earns a victory in first men’s game in new arena

Flames down St. Francis 78-62

The first game in Liberty Arena was a success for the Liberty men’s basketball team as the Flames improve to 3-2 with a 78-62 win over St. Francis (1-3). The Flames shot 53 percent from the field, led by Keegan McDowell’s career-high 21 points.

First Half

Liberty did an exceptional job of getting its players involved on offense to start the game, as eight players scored for Liberty in the first half. Keegan McDowell got hot in the first half, leading all scorers with 12 points as the Flames shot 50 percent (16-32) from the field. Both teams went back-and-forth with seven lead changes and being tied five times. Liberty took the lead off a McDowell three-pointer at the 4:03-mark and the Flames never trailed again. Drake Dobbs put the exclamation point on the first half for Liberty, with a half-court buzzer beater, to end the half with a 39-32 lead.

Second Half

Liberty tightened up defensively in the second half, forcing St. Francis to shoot 34 percent (9-26) from the floor, limiting the Red Flash to just two makes from beyond the arc. Liberty continued to be steady on offense, shooting 56 percent (13-23) from the field. Once again, McDowell led the Flames in scoring, dropping nine points in the latter half. The Flames distributed the ball well throughout the night, especially in the second half recording nine assists off 13 makes.

Key Stats & Notes

·        Liberty shot over 50 percent for the third time this season.

·        Keegan McDowell scored a career-high 21 points.

·        Shiloh Robinson tied his career-high in rebounds (7).

·        Blake Preston recorded a season-high seven rebounds.

·        Chris Parker led all players with a game-high six assists.

·        Liberty’s bench outscored St. Francis’ 42-24.

·        Liberty out-rebounded an opponent (36-29) for the first time this season.

Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay

“I knew going in, this was going to be difficult. Having played four high-majors, and then a team that may not be as well-known or well-recognized but they are tremendously coached, I thought it would be hard for us. I think Drake Dobbs’ half-court shot allowed us to take a little bit of a breath. We looked much more like ourselves in the second half.”

Up Next

Liberty continues its homestand on Saturday, Dec. 5, when the Flames host Bluefield College. Tipoff is set for noon at Liberty Arena and can be seen on ESPN+.