LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty held CSU to 31 percent shooting and rode the hot hand of sophomore point guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz to pull away from the Bucs for a 70-53 win Tuesday at the Vines Center.
Pacheco-Ortiz scored a game-high 27 points on just nine shots, burying 7-of-8 tries from three-point range, to power Liberty (10-5, 1-1 Big South). The Flames, who led the Big South and ranked top-25 nationally in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense entering play, frustrated CSU (6-7, 1-1 Big South) for much of the night. Liberty also controlled the glass, 38-24, in a matchup of the league's top-two rebounding teams. Scottie James led that cause for the Flames with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Despite its struggles, CSU trailed by just a point near the 12-minute mark of the second half courtesy of an 8-0 spurt. The Bucs had two chances to move in front but came up empty on both possessions and the Flames rattled off an 11-0 run to create distance.
"We just had a breakdown in execution," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said of the game's final ten-plus minutes. "When it got tough, our execution didn't hold up against one of the better teams in the league. The next step for us is playing with great effort and great execution when things get a little rocky. We've gotta learn how to stick to our principles and not break down in what we're trying to do."
Freshman Jamaal David paced CSU with a career-high 11 points and Christian Keeling and Travis McConico added 10 apiece. Although Liberty shot 50 percent overall and 13-of-21 from downtown, the Bucs were able to force 22 turnovers and register ten steals.
How It Happened
- Threes by Keeling and McConico keyed an 8-0 run that brought CSU within 38-37 at the 13:28 mark. CSU had two opportunities to re-take the lead but Javis Howard missed a hook shot and McConico misfired on a three.
- Caleb Homesley then recorded a three-point play and drilled a three to jumpstart the decisive 11-0 run over the ensuing 2:32. Following a trey by Pacheco-Ortiz, Homesley capped the stretch with a dunk to send Liberty's edge to 49-37 with 9:13 remaining.
- CSU trimmed its deficit back down to seven on a Howard layup with 7:30 left but Liberty answered with six straight points to forge a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
- In the first half, CSU forced a bevy of turnovers to build a 16-11 lead by the 10:46 mark. Jamar Martin highlighted that stretch, providing a spark off the bench with a personal 5-0 run.
- The Bucs still enjoyed a 21-17 edge following a McConico three with 8:27 left but were held to four points over the rest of the stanza as the Flames surged to a 30-25 halftime lead.
Inside the Numbers
- Liberty was just 4-for-22 from three in Saturday's loss to Gardner-Webb but connected on 13-of-21 against CSU. The Flames were 25-for-51 from beyond the arc in their season sweep of the Bucs last year.
- CSU has now forced 51 turnovers in two conference games. The Bucs registered double-digit steals for the second consecutive game and fifth time this season.
- Keeling has now scored in double figures in 20 straight games.
CSU will return to action Saturday at High Point. Tipoff at the Millis Center in High Point, N.C., is set for 7 p.m.