The Liberty Flames (3-1) used 22 points and eight rebounds from Seth Curry to cruise to an 88-66 win over the Coker Cobras (3-3) in the opening game of the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic, Friday night, inside the Vines Center.
Coker struck early, staking themselves to a quick 5-2 advantage via a trey by Lukas Varga at 19:25, followed by a Josh Poston jumper at 17:41. Kyle Ohman tied the game at five all on his three-point bucket at 17:23.
Ohman’s three-pointer sparked the Flames, as Liberty went on a 20-5 run, which was capped by a Jesse Sanders bucket on an Anthony Smith pass at the 11:04 mark. Sanders got things started and was perfect from the field, tallying nine of the 20 points during the run to give the Flames the 25-10 lead.
The Cobras narrowed the deficit to 12 points, 30-18, via an 8-5 run which was finished off by a Stevie Evans bucket at 8:43.
From that point Liberty took over, pushing its lead to 21 points, 48-27, by the half. During the run, six different Flames scored, including three-point buckets by Ohman and Curry. The trey by Curry came with 44 seconds left in the half, capping the 18-9 run.
Despite missing its first three shots of the game, Liberty went on to shoot 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the floor in the opening period, including 50 percent from three-point range. Sanders tallied a half-high 11 points, equaling his season total to date.
Coker was successful on 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the floor, including 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from beyond the arc.
Liberty pushed its advantage up to 25 points, 60-35, scoring 12 of the first 20 points coming out of the intermission. Back-to-back three-point buckets by Curry and Ohman capped the run at 14:06.
An 18-10 spurt by the Cobras brought the Liberty advantage down to 13 points, 70-57, capped by an Evans three-pointer from the corner at 7:49. But that would be as close as Coker would get, as Liberty quickly went on a 10-0 run, completed by a Curry trey at 5:39. Curry scored five of 10 points during run, extending the Liberty lead to 23 points, 80-57 at the 4:56 mark.
Liberty maintained its advantage over the closing five minutes, closing out the game with the 22-point victory.
The Flames finished the contest connecting on 62.0 percent (31-of-50) of its shots from the floor, including 50 percent (10-of-20) from three-point range.
Curry paced the Flames with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Curry also contributed with a career and game-high eight rebounds. Smith added 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Sanders added a career-high 15 rebounds and was 7-of-8 from the field. Ohman rounded out the top Liberty scorers with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Coker ended the contest shooting 39.3 percent (24-of-61) from the floor, including 30.3 percent (10-of-33) from three-point range.
The Cobras were paced by Poston’s 13 points, while Evans added 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting. J.C. Hafner chipped in 11 points in the losing cause.
Liberty returns to action tomorrow night at 8:15 p.m. in the championship game of the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. Liberty will play the winner of the South Carolina State and William & Mary contest that is currently in progress.