Liberty survives late Camel rally 49-41 to win on Senior Night in Lynchburg

Darren White
(photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Darren White (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

LYNCHBURG, VA. – Liberty survived a late Campbell run and claimed a 49-41 win Saturday on Senior Night at the Vines Center.

The Flames (14-17, 9-9) won for the 9th time in their last 12 games against Big South foes and earned the fifth seed in next week's league tournament at Asheville, N.C. 

Campbell (17-14, 11-7) lost its 3rd-straight game after being held to its lowest scoring total of the year.  The third-seeded Camels will face sixth seed Winthrop (11-19) Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship. 

The Camels trailed by 12 with 12:59 to play, but cut the gap to 42-41 with 1:37 left when Lorne Merthie hit his 3rd three-pointer of the 2nd half to cap a 15-3 run.  However, Tavares Speaks answered with a 3 at the other end to push the edge to 45-41 with just over a minute to play and the Camels drew no closer.

Antwan Burrus led Liberty with 20 points (8-11 field goals), 12 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.  John Caleb Sanders scored 14 points, including 4 threes, while his older brother Jesse dealt 9 assists and grabbed 8 boards in his final home game. 

Speaks entered the game only 2-of-18 from 3-point range all year, but he made 3-of-5 Saturday night to finish with 9 points, plus 8 rebounds.

Darren White led the Camels with 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting, while Merthie added 11 off the bench – all in the second half.  Eric Griffin entered the game as the 8th-leading scorer in the league (16.2) and 6th in the country in field goal percentage (.623).  However, the senior forward finished with 7 points (3-9 field goals), 9 rebounds and 4 blocks for the Camels, who shot just 29 percent (.18-62) from the floor and made only 1-of-4 foul shots.

The Camels and Flames split the regular season series.  On Dec. 1 at Buies Creek, Campbell made 32-of-43 free throws as the teams combined to shoot 76 foul shots.

Liberty wrapped a 13-2 run around half-time to build a double figure advantage and led 38-26 when John Caleb Sanders hit a 3 from the left corner with 12:59 remaining.

Campbell made 5 of its first 9 field goals, including dunks by Griffin, White and Marvelle Harris to take a 10-6 lead with 14:48 to play.  However, the Camels made only 4 of their next 16 attempts and scored only 7 points the rest of the half.

Back-to-back 3s by John Caleb Sanders capped a 9-0 run gave Liberty a 13-10 lead with 9:28 left in the period.  Tavares Speaks' 3 provided the Flames with a 22-7 advantage at the break.