Garth explodes as Cards notch third straight win

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lamar sports information

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Freshman Nick Garth scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the second half as the Lamar Cardinals pulled away from Liberty for a 73-58 victory Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center.

The victory moved LU’s (5-3) win streak to three consecutive, while the Flames (3-8) dropped their seventh consecutive decision.

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The Cardinals were 29 of 58 (.500) from the field, including five three-pointers, while outrebounding their hosts 33-21. LU turned the ball over only nine times, including just one in the second half. The Flames shot 46 percent from the field, after being held to a 3-of-17 (.176) effort in the opening 20 minutes.

The Cardinals took advantage of their depth in the low post to attack Liberty. LU outscored the Flames, 38-16 in the paint, but the real advantage came from LU’s depth. The Cardinals’ reserves outscored Liberty’s bench, 40-15.

“Any time you get a win on the road, you’re happy,” said head coach Tic Price. “I thought the difference in this game was our bench. They scored 40 points, while we only allowed 15 from Liberty. Any time you can get an effort like that from your bench, you have a very good chance to be successful.”

The Cardinals started quick and finished strong as they picked up their second road win of the season, and the first in a road trip that will see Big Red play two games in 25 hours. LU never trailed as it connected on five of its first eight attempts, while holding Liberty scoreless for nearly the first four minutes into the contest.

The Red and White jumped out to a 13-5 advantage to start the game, but the offense cooled off hitting only five of their next 19 attempts. Despite cooling offensively, the defense picked up the pressure. Liberty struggled to find the range in the opening half when they could actually get a shot off, getting called for three shot clock violations in the first 5 minutes of the game. Liberty was held to just three field goals and less than 18 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.

LU’s defensive pressure relegated the Flames’ leading scorers – Evan Maxwell and Lovell Cabbil – as non-factors in the opening half. The duo was averaging nearly 27 points per game combined, but were held to just five points at halftime.

Trailing by 13 points, 27-14 at halftime, the Flames came out of the locker room with a renewed effort on offense. Working harder to get Maxwell open, Liberty’s leading scorer netted 13 of his 15 points in the game’s final 20 minutes. The Flames connected on  -o -8 attempts to start the half, but could get no closer than eight points as the Cardinals answered every Liberty basket with a make of their own.

While the Flames were busy shooting 67 percent from the field in the second half, the Cardinals were just as hot shooting 19 of 31 (.613). Garth scored 20 second-half points taking advantage of the dribble drive and the three-pointer, while freshman Dorian Chatman and senior LeMon Gregory were making their presence felt in the low post. Chatman scored 10 of his 14 points in the second-half while Gregory added eight in the final 20 minutes.

The Flames were never able to seriously threaten in the second despite their hot shooting. Liberty cut the LU lead down to eight points with just over 4 minutes remaining, but the Cardinals went on a run to take an 18 point lead – its largest of the game – before the Flames hit a three with seconds remaining for the game’s final score.

Garth was joined in double figures by Chatman who scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while junior Lincoln Davis added 11 points. Gregory recorded his second-straight double-digit effort scoring 10 on 5-of-7 shooting.

LU returns to action Sunday when they tip off against Virginia Tech. The game against the Hokies is slated to tip off at 2 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.