ASHEVILLE, N.C. – “I think, sometimes, there’s not this incredible formula that made it all happen … Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes, and I think that was today.”

That one quote from Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan summed up his team’s result, a 73-59 Liberty victory in the Big South Conference tournament quarterfinals Friday night, a game the Flames led nearly from the jump.

Campbell (16-15) took an early 2-0 lead on an Andrew Eudy bucket, and tied the game at eight after the sixth straight point from star guard Chris Clemons.  Liberty (19-13) pressed the accelerator, going on a 23-10 binge that put the Flames up by 13 with 4:03 to play in the half.  Marcus Burk, Damontez Oliver and Eudy drilled shots from distance over the final segment to narrow the Liberty interval lead to 10 at 37-27.

Liberty scorched the nets in the opening twenty, knocking down nearly 54 percent of its shots (15-for-28) from the field.  Conversely, the Flames’ defense held the Camels to 36 percent (9-for-25).  That defensive effort earned kudos from Liberty coach Ritchie McKay after the game.

“I really was proud of our group and their effort defensively,” said McKay.  “Campbell’s kinda had their way with us in the first two games [of the regular season, both Campbell victories], and I think our guys took a lot of pride in at least trying to make it a little more difficult for them on our defensive end.”

Eudy converted an and-one opportunity on Campbell’s opening second-half possession, briefly cutting the Liberty lead to seven.  The Flames then embarked on a 7-0 run that stretched the lead back to 14, largely putting away the contest.  The distance between the clubs remained in double figures until Clemons dropped a triple with 1:56 to play, cutting the lead to eight.  Liberty salted away the contest from the free throw line as the final two minutes unfolded, however.

Liberty enjoyed a 16-point advantage in the paint and off the bench, and forward Myo Baxter-Bell played a significant role in both of those numbers.  Baxter-Bell converted on all seven attempts from the field in 14 minutes of play.

“I think my teammates put me in perfect chances where I could play my game and get to the rim to give us the best shot in that offensive possession,” said Baxter-Bell.  “This game, it was falling.”

The defense McKay credited also came up large, holding sharpshooting guards Clemons and Burk to a combined 10-for-33 from the floor.  Campbell was limited to just 35.8 percent (19-for-53) from the floor, with just 8-of-24 three-point tries finding the net.

“That’s always a focus for us on defense,” said guard/forward Caleb Homesley of his team’s perimeter guarding effort.  “That’s what our identity is.  I think tonight, we just brought a great effort, and I thought that we really keyed in on their shooters, and we had high hands on every closeout.  I thought we did a good job.”

Clemons led Campbell and all scorers with 23, despite making just 7-of-22 field-goal tries.  Eudy added 10 on 4-for-6 shooting, despite playing just 23 minutes due to first-half foul trouble.  The Camels moved to 16-15, and now await a possible berth in the CIT or CBI tournaments.

Baxter-Bell and forward Scottie James both paced Liberty with 14 apiece.  James finished one rebound shy of a double-double.  Lovell Cabbil added 13 while being tasked with being the primary defender on Clemons, while Homesley tallied 12 off the bench.  Ryan Kemrite finished with 10.

Liberty advances to Friday night’s second semifinal to face top-seeded Asheville.  The Flames defeated the Bulldogs in Kimmel Arena two weeks ago, as a James layup as time expired sent the contest to overtime.  Liberty outscored Asheville, 13-0, in overtime to close out that 82-69 victory.  McKay realized Friday night the challenge ahead for his club.

“The task will be tall, but I’m very fond of our group,” said McKay.  “We did win here the last time.  The problem is, they remember we won here last time, and it’s their only loss at Kimmel Arena all year.  The stakes are a lot higher.  I’m sure it’ll be a great environment.”


LIBERTY (19-13): Kemrite 3-5 1-1 10, Cuffee 1-6 0-0 2, James 4-6 6-6 14, Cabbil 5-10 3-4 13, Pacheco-Ortiz 1-6 1-1 3, Baxter-Bell 7-7 0-1 14, Homesley 5-6 0-0 12, Williams 1-2 0-1 2, McDowell 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 28-51 11-14 73.

CAMPBELL (16-15): S. Whitfield 0-1 0-0 0, Eudy 4-6 1-1 10, Clemons 7-22 7-8 23, Gensler 1-5 0-0 3, Burk 3-11 0-0 8, Oliver 2-2 2-5 8, Parker 0-1 0-0 0, J. Whitfield 1-3 0-0 3, Lado 1-2 3-4 5. Totals 28-51 11-14 73.

Halftime — Liberty 37, Campbell 27. 3-Point Goals—Liberty 6-16 (Kemrite 3-5, Cuffee 0-1, James 0-1, Pacheco-Ortiz 0-1, Homesley 2-2, McDowell 1-3), Campbell 9-24 (Eudy 1-1, Clemons 2-9, Gensler 1-4, Burk 2-6, Oliver 2-2, Parker 0-1, J. Whitfield 0-1). Fouled Out — Oliver (CU). Rebounds — Liberty 34 (James 9), Campbell 28 (Clemons 6). Assists —Liberty 8 (Cabbil/Pacheco-Ortiz/Homesley 2), Campbell 7 (Gensler 2). Total Fouls — Campbell 16, Liberty 15. Technical — None. A — 2276.

Points in the Paint —Liberty 38, Campbell 22. Points off Turnovers —Campbell 6, Liberty 2. Second-Chance Points — Liberty 6, Campbell 5. Fast Break Points — Liberty 2, Campbell 2. Bench Points — Liberty 31, Campbell 15.

Big South Tournament Schedule

Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 1 – ESPN3

Game 3: #2 Radford 59, #10 Longwood 53

Game 4: #3 Winthrop 72, #6 Gardner-Webb 68

Game 5: #1 UNC Asheville 71, #8 Charleston Southern 66

Game 6: #5 Liberty 73, #4 Campbell 59

Semifinals – Friday, March 2 – ESPN3

Game 7:  Semifinals – Radford vs. Winthrop, 6:00pm

Game 8:  Semifinals – UNC Asheville vs. Liberty, 8:00pm

Championship – Sunday, March 4 – ESPN

Game 9:  Championship – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1:00pm