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Liberty starts slow, responds for win over Kennesaw State

Flames win 69-63 in ASUN action

Liberty rallies from down 12 to defeat Kennesaw State.  January 8, 2021.
Liberty rallies from down 12 to defeat Kennesaw State. January 8, 2021. (ASUN/Liberty Athletics)

Lynchburg, Va. – Liberty erased a 12-point deficit to defeat Kennesaw State 69-63, Friday night at Liberty Arena. The Flames improve to 10-4 and 2-1 in the ASUN Conference while Kennesaw State falls to 3-8 and 0-3 in conference.

First Half

Both teams struggled on offense to start the game as neither team scored until the 14:39-mark. After getting settled in, Kennesaw State was able to jump out to a 12-0 lead midway through the half. Liberty did not score until the 11:26-mark but in the final 10 minutes was able to get back on track on offense, outscoring the Owls 29-18 in the last 10 minutes of the half. Liberty’s bench was able to kickstart the Flames’ offense as the bench scored 18 points in the first half, led by Shiloh Robinson’s eight points. Liberty went into the break with a 31-30 lead.

Second Half

The Flames’ defense was exceptional to start the second half, not allowing KSU to score in the first five minutes of the half.  Liberty capitalized going on a 12-0 run to start the half sparked by points in the paint and converting from the free throw line. Kennesaw State was able to cut Liberty’s lead to single digits and cut the lead all the way down to four points (67-63) in the final five seconds of the game but the Flames were able to hold onto the lead, pulling out the victory. Darius McGhee (10 points) and Blake Preston (12 points) took over in the second half for the Flames on offense scoring 22 of Liberty’s 38 points in the second half.

Key Stats & Notes

Liberty extends its home winning streak to 30 games, the second longest in Division I.

Liberty made a season-high 23 free throws.

Blake Preston scored a career-high 17 points.

Darius McGhee recorded a team-high seven rebounds.

Chris Parker matched his season-high in points (13).

Parker made a season-high seven free throws.

Kennesaw State shot 38.5 percent from the field.

Liberty’s bench outscored Kennesaw State’s bench 22-16.

Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay

“Tonight was a hard-fought game and I am glad we were victorious. I have a lot of respect for Kennesaw State and the season they are having; it is just a matter of time before they get some wins because they play quality basketball. I am happy with the final outcome and I think there are a lot of things we can work on and we will have a chance to do that again tomorrow.”

Up Next

Liberty and Kennesaw State will wrap up its weekend series on Saturday, Jan. 9, as tipoff is set for 5 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.