William & Mary's manhandling of North Carolina State on opening night vaulted the Tribe quickly into our Mid-Major Power 15. After a three day rest Tony Shaver's squad had a bit of different target on their back heading into the Vines Center Tuesday night for a match up with Liberty.
Liberty came into the contest 2-0 after a narrowly beating a non-Division I squad by two points on opening night and blowing out another on Saturday evening. The Flames are in their first year in the second Ritchie McKay era and were picked last in the Big South preseason poll.
The biggest thing that was apparent right from the tip was that Liberty is a lot more well coached this season. The Flames have a solid starting five and had great ball movement on offense. The development of second year player Evan Maxwell was apparent and additions Anthony Fields, a Bradley transfer, and Lovell Cabbil really stood out. The solid core of the Flames allowed them to garner a 38-35 lead at the half.
Liberty's deficiencies were also pretty apparent though. The Flames are still a work in progress defensively and they are not very deep. William & Mary scored at-will in the paint with 42 points of their 70 total in a 11 point victory. The Tribe was able to grind on the Flames as Liberty's bench only contributed 2 points, 1 assist, and 0 rebounds.
Omar Prewitt was the high scorer for the Tribe in their 70-59 win with 16 points, eight of which came from the free throw line. Terry Tarpey gave Liberty a lot of trouble in the pain with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Everyone in Liberty's starting five ended the game in double-figures, lead by Anthony Fields with 13 points. It was clear the core lineup for Liberty is going to keep them in some games this year if they stay healthy. The Flames will really benefit from Marquette transfer John Dawson adding some depth after the first semester closes.
William & Mary will have a quick turnaround with a non-Division I match up on Thursday. The Tribe will need it as they head to Dayton on Saturday for a Mid-Major Power 15 tilt with the Flyers.
Meanwhile, Liberty will play their third non-Division I team of the year this weekend before heading to Nashville next week to play Appalachian State, Western Michigan, and Tulane in the Challenge in Music City.