Senior Will Barnes is the Lee University basketball team's leading scorer on the year and Thursday evening he showed why. Barnes dropped a season-high 36 points to lead the Flames over visiting Oakwood University 89-68 at Walker Arena.
The victory moves the third-ranked Flames to 11-0 on the year. With the loss the Ambassadors fall to 2-10.
Lee held an eight point advantage at the break, 43-35. After the first few minutes of the second stanza it looked as if Oakwood came to play the role of early season spoiler, cutting the Lee advantage to just two, at 52-50. It was then that Barnes and the Flames went on a timely run to open up a double-digit lead and from there never looked back.
"Give Oakwood credit. They have played a tough schedule and are a well-coached team " said Coach Tommy Brown. "Will (Barnes) had a great game but he made of couple of fouls that could have cost us. In close games we can't have him in foul trouble."
While Barnes led the scoring punch for the home team, he certainly wasn't alone. Junior guard Chase Dunn tallied 15 markers. Steve Bennett followed a solid performance on Tuesday night with a 14 point effort while adding seven boards and point guard Duran Blue chipped in 13 points, nine of those coming from long distance as he went 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
"Duran (Blue) has developed into a point guard that we will need on the court most of the time. He (Duran Blue), Will (Barnes), Big Steve (Bennett) and Chase (Dunn) are our team leaders in practice and in the games," Brown added.
The Flames were dominant on the glass, outrebounding Oakwood 42-28. Once again Chad Lee was active all over the floor, securing 11 rebounds. Both teams did a nice job taking care of the basketball as Lee was guilty of just 11 floor mistakes, while the Ambassadors turned the ball over nine times.
Coach's Brown team continued to shoot the ball well, going 31-of-59 from the field, good for 52.5 percent. The Flames attempted 24 from 3-point land and hit nine (37.5 percent). Oakwood struggled to make shots in the opening half, shooting just 32.4 percent from the field, as the Lee defense made baskets tough to come by. The Ambassadors went 11-of-24 in the second half and shot 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the field for the game.
"I thought our defense let down a couple of times in the first half and when they made a run in the second half, but this team has had their own way of making runs at the right time. I just hope it continues," said Brown.
Oakwood was led in scoring by Ronald Baltimore with 24. Reginald Bushner added 15 points off the bench and Ryan Moore had 13 markers and six boards for the Alabama club before fouling out late in the contest.
The Flames will be back in action on Friday, Dec. 14, as they travel to Atlanta to square off with Carver Baptist College. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.