YNCHBURG, Va. – Ryan Kemrite and Lovell Cabill each scored career highs and combined for 55 points to lead Liberty past the Norfolk State men’s basketball team by a 73-64 score on Monday night at the Vines Center in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Competing in the John McLendon Classic, the first game of the CIT and the only Division I contest on the day, the Flames knocked down 12-of-28 from long range, including 8-of-16 in the first half. Liberty’s defense, meanwhile, clamped down on NSU in the first period before the Spartans got things going in the second.
But in the end, the Flames ended NSU’s season at 17-17 overall, giving the Spartans their sixth straight .500 or better record.
Both aforementioned Liberty players shot 9-of-13 from the floor. Kemrite hit 6-of-10 from long range for a career-high 30 points, and Cabbil from 4-of-8 from deep for a career-best 25 points.
It was a battle of guards, as NSU’s Jonathan Wade made 4-of-9 from 3-point range and 6-of-14 overall for a 22-point night in the last game of his career. Junior Zaynah Robinson sank 5-of-12 overall and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc for 19 points to go along with seven assists. Both players also made 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
Liberty improved to 20-13 overall and advanced to the next round of the CIT. NSU was taking part in its fourth straight CIT while making its sixth straight overall postseason appearance.
It was a tale of two halves for NSU, which shot just 36 percent in the first half in falling behind by 11 at the break. But in the second, the Spartans nearly doubled their point total from the first half and made it a game until NSU got stuck in a cold stretch.
Down 33-22 at the half, the Spartans quickly cut into the Liberty lead early in the second period, pulling to within 38-32 on junior Dan Robinson‘s 3-point play at the 16:24 mark. Less than a minute later, Wade drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to begin a 12-2 run and put the Spartans ahead, 44-42, their first lead since the opening bucket of the game.
The Flames, though, immediately scored the next nine points to put themselves ahead by seven. It was part of a larger 21-6 run that extended Liberty’s lead to 13, 63-50, with 5:37 to go. The Spartans went eight minutes in between buckets during that time, scoring all six of their points from the foul line until Zaynah Robinson made a long range shot from the left side.
Liberty stretched its lead up to 15 right after that, its largest of the contest. NSU only got to single digits at the very end when Wade made a layup at the buzzer.
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