Liberty had not won a nonconference road game against a Division I opponent in almost five years. It had not defeated an ACC opponent in nearly a decade. On Tuesday night, it hardly showed.
Lovell Cabbil scored 22 points, Ryan Kemrite had 17 on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range, and Liberty upset Wake Forest 79-66 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
It was the Flames’ first nonconference road win over a Division I opponent since beating Western Carolina on Dec. 31, 2012, and their first victory over an ACC opponent since an 86-82 defeat of Virginia in 2008.
“I appreciated the effort our guys played with,” Flames coach Ritchie McKay said. “Going in, I knew (Wake Forest) Coach (Danny) Manning and his staff, how good he is and how they reflect the tradition and the storied history that Wake basketball has. They certainly weren’t opposition that we were excited about.
“But I felt like our guys played with a ton of poise.”
Indeed, it was the Flames (2-0) who were in control throughout. They trailed for only 5:34 and led for the entire second half. While the Demon Deacons briefly rallied within as few as three points in the opening stages of the second half, Liberty needed little time to answer with a 10-0 run, bookended by a pair of Cabbil baskets, to reclaim a 56-43 advantage.
Wake Forest (0-2) never truly recovered. Kemrite hit his fourth 3-pointer to make it 59-47 with 6:33 to play, then…