Liberty takes control in second half for 88-74 victory over Furman

CONWAY, S.C. (Nov. 16, 2023) – Liberty went on a 20-2 run over 5½ minutes of game action spanning the first and second halves and never looked back, pulling away for an 88-74 victory over Furman in the final game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational’s opening round.

Furman (2-1) led 33-27 with three minutes left in the first half. But the Flames (3-0) closed the half by scoring 11 unanswered points, then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 47-35 lead. The Paladins briefly pulled to within six, but Liberty responded with a 9-3 run and led by double-digits for the final 13:45 of the game.

“Any time you can finish a half strong, it carries a little momentum into the locker room and sets a tone for the second half,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said. “We did a good job of stemming the tide, and then furthering the gap.”

The Flames pulled away in the second half on the strength of sizzling 64 percent shooting from the field (18-for-28). Liberty also finished with 18 assists to only eight turnovers.

“We played really well for about the first 17 minutes The game was back-and-forth and had the feeling of a good heavyweight fight,” Bob Richey said. “Then they made a run right before half and carried that momentum into the second half.

“Unfortunately, our defense in the second half just wasn’t near what it was in the first half. We didn’t have the defensive connection or effort in intensity that we need to have for a 40-minute period.”

Kyle Rode led the way for Liberty with 19 points and five rebounds. Brody Peebles was close behind with 16 points and five rebounds, while Colin Porter handed out eight assists.

Furman guard Marcus Foster had the most points in day one of the tournament with 30 and teammate JP Pegues added 20. But the rest of the team combined for only 24 points on 8-of-25 shooting.