Defense Propels Liberty Past North Carolina A&T, 65-52

Homesley, Caleb
Caleb Homesley had a game-high 16 points to help lead Liberty past North Carolina A&T in the opener of the 2018 CIT. (Source: Liberty Athletics)

LYNCHBURG, Va. — The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get underway until Tuesday night with a pair of First Four games in Dayton, but post-season basketball took place on Monday afternoon and evening.

At 12:00pm EST, the 10th edition of the Tournament got underway in Fort Wayne, IN. Four games were scheduled for Monday in the First Round of the 20-team event, all featuring schools from outside of the power conferences.

In Lynchburg, VA, the Liberty Flames played host to the North Carolina A&T Aggies to kick off the post-season for both teams. Equipped with identical 20-14 records, both teams were looking to pick up a win and advance into the second round of the tournament next week.

All season, the Flames have had one of the nation’s top scoring defenses, and they made things extremely tough for the Aggies on Monday night. Liberty held North Carolina A&T to their lowest offensive output of the season, and rolled to the 65-52 win over the Aggies in the Jim Phelan Classic.

Caleb Homesley and Scottie James led the way for the Flames on Monday night. Homesley recorded a game-high 16 points to go along with six rebounds, while James recorded a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Freshman Keegan McDowell came off the bench to score 15 points in the win.

As for the Aggies, it was guard Aaren Edmead who led the way in the loss. He finished with a team-high 14 points to go along with three assists, and he was the only player for North Carolina A&T to score in double figures. Forward Femi Olujobi was held to just eight points, but added 12 rebounds.

The 52 points scored for the Aggies was their lowest offensive output of the season.

It was a back-and-forth affair for the first 20 minutes. Liberty opened up a 23-16 lead with just over four minutes to play before the break on a layup from Isaiah Williams. They wouldn’t score again before the half was out, and the Aggies cut the deficit to just two points heading into the second frame.

Much like the first frame, the second half started out with the teams trading baskets. The Aggies took a 34-31 lead with 13:08 left in the game on a three pointer from Devonte Boykins, but they were unable to put more distance between themselves and Liberty.

James and Homesley responded with layups on consecutive possessions for the Flames to give the home side a 35-34 lead. Liberty wouldn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the way, and padded their lead down the stretch.

Liberty picked up the 65-52 win over North Carolina A&T to advance to the Second Round of the 2018 CIT, while the Aggies’ season came to a close with the loss.

– T. Bennett