Liberty Hits a Low With Loss to Presbyterian

From LU athletics:

CLINTON, S.C.- Coming off a narrow double overtime loss at High Point, the Liberty men's basketball looked to rebound, Saturday night, squaring off with Presbyterian College inside the Templeton Center. Unfortunately, for the Flames, the Blue Hose were determined to capture their first conference win of the season, picking up the 68-60 decision.

With the defeat, Liberty falls to 5-14 on the year and 1-4 in Big South play. Presbyterian moves to 4-15 overall and 1-4 in conference play, knotting the all-time series at 6-6.

Davon Marshall paced the Flames with 14 points, followed by Casey Roberts (13) and Tavares Speaks (11).

Khalid Mutakabbir posted a game-high 24 points for the Blue Hose, while Jordan Downing added 14 tallies. Joshua Clyburn finished the night with a double-double, recording 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Flames shot 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field, while Presbyterian shot 42.9 percent (21-of-49). Despite the loss, Liberty outscored the Blue Hose in the paint (28-12) and off the bench (24-6). However, the difference came at the three-point arc and the free throw line, where PC knocked down eight treys and 18 free throws.

Presbyterian jumped out to an early 4-0 lead on baskets by Clyburn and Downing.

Marshall's jump shot at the 14:06 mark of the first half capped a 5-0 Liberty run and put the Flames on top 5-4.

After the Blue Hose regained the lead at 7-5 with 11:51 remaining in the opening stanza, Liberty quickly retook the advantage 28 ticks later on a three pointer by Roberts.

Presbyterian's Khalid Mutakkabir caught fire in the final 10:24 of the first half. The Blue Hose's leading scorer tallied 19 of the squad's 24 points over the span, giving PC a 31-25 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Blue Hose extended their lead to 10 on back-to-back baskets by Mutakkabir and Clyburn to open the second half.

A layup by Speaks and a free throw from Joel Vander Pol brought the Flames within seven with 15:58 remaining in the second half.

The home team lengthened its lead to as much as 12 in the final stanza, before Liberty began to chip away at the lead and reduce it to five, 59-54, with 2:09 left in the contest.

On the ensuing possession, Liberty's defense nearly forced a shot clock violation against Presbyterian, but Eric Washington was able to find Clyburn under the basket for a layup with one second remaining on the shot clock. Clyburn's bucket pushed the Blue Hose's lead back to seven at 61-54.

Tomasz Gielo's layup with 1:18 showing on the game clock once again cut Presbyterian's lead to five, but Flames could not climb any closer. The Blue Hose converted on five of six free throws in the final seconds of the game to hold off Liberty and come away with a 68-60 victory.

Presbyterian heads to Charleston Southern, Wednesday, to take on the Buccaneers at 7 p.m.

Liberty returns to action Tuesday night, playing host to Longwood. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., with the contest airing live on the Liberty Channel, ESPN3 and MASN2.