LYNCHBURG, Va. — On Saturday afternoon, Ryan Kemrite recorded just two points, but they were a big two points as the Liberty Flames knocked off the Presbyterian Blue Hose in Big South play, 60-48.
Kemrite came into the day just two points shy of 1,000 for his career. With 10:58 to play in the second half, Kemrite scored his only two points of the game from the charity stripe, becoming the 25th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club.
It was a back-and-forth first half that saw the teams trade leads on several occasions, and the Blue Hose taking a 22-21 lead into the break. The second half started the same way, as the teams were neck-and-neck for the first 10 minutes. Liberty found their groove in the final 10 minutes of the second frame, and pulled away for the 12-point victory on their home floor.
Sophomore guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz scored a team-high 14 points, on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Off the bench, Lovell Cabbil added 13 points and Caleb Homesley contributed 12 points in the win.
Scottie James just missed his third straight double-double, posting eight points and 12 rebounds.
For the Blue Hose, senior guard Reggie Dillard scored a game-high 18 points, while forward Francois Lewis added 15 points before picking up his fifth foul of the night.
Davon Bell came off the bench and recorded just three points. Those were the only points that the Blue Hose would get from the bench in the loss.
It was a tightly contested first half, as the teams went back-and-forth for the entire 20 minutes. Dillard hit a jumper with 2:03 to play in the half that gave the Blue Hose a five-point lead, which was the biggest for either team in the frame. Pacheco-Ortiz and Cabbil each got a layup to fall in the final two minutes to bring Liberty within one point before the break, and Presbyterian took a 22-21 edge into the locker room.
The Flames opened the second half on a quick 6-0 run to take a five-point lead of their own, at 27-22. Presbyterian remained within striking distance, and the teams were neck-and-neck again, much like the first half.
With 11:42 to play, a jumper from Cabbil gave Liberty a 36-35 lead, one that they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Kemrite followed that up with his only two points of the night to push the lead to three ahead of the midway point of the second half.
Shortly thereafter, Liberty went on an 11-0 run to stretch their lead to 13 points, at 49-36. The Flames would cruise to the finish line, holding down home court to the tune of a 60-48 victory.
With the loss, Presbyterian (8-8, 1-2) have now alternated wins and losses over their past six games. They will look to get back on track on Tuesday at home against the Campbell Fighting Camels.
The win was the second straight victory for Liberty (11-5, 2-1), and the Flames are in a three-way tie for second in the Big South standings. They will go for their third straight win on Tuesday night when they head on the road for a date against the Winthrop Eagles.
– T. Bennett