LIBERTY - Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Batman and Robin. Watching the Liberty Leopards take on the Lakeview Bulldogs Friday night, it was hard not to notice another dynamic duo - Asim Pleas and Lynn Bowden.
The senior-freshman combo complemented each other to perfection in a 59-48 win over Lakeview on Friday night.
Pleas scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half, helping his team take a nine-point lead, but in the second half, Bowden nailed 12 of his 20 points, which helped cement the win. Both players made it hard for the Bulldogs to decide which one should get the most coverage.
Liberty coach Dan Bubon explained their connection best.
"They've been doing that a lot," Bubon said. "The other night at Boardman, I think that Asim had 24 in the first half and ended with 29. I think Lynn had two at half and ended with 17. It's tough to take both of them away. They are our two main ball handlers and you can really concentrate on one but that leaves the other one. They're hard to stop from getting to the basket. So very rarely can you take both of them away. They do a really nice job playing off one another."
Pleas gave props to the freshman.
"They were trapping us a little early on," Pleas said. "During practice, we go over that when teams press us. A lot of that was due to the good ball handling of our off guard Lynn Bowden, which really opened up a lot of stuff for me. When they put a lot of tension on him, that opened up a lot of free lanes for me with him penetrating and being that ball handler that he is."
In the start of the second quarter, Pleas scored six of his points in the first minute and 10 seconds. Then in the third quarter, Bowden scored the first four points for his squad. Bowden then caused a Lakeview turnover, ran the ball down to Pleas who finished it off with a slam dunk.
Even though the Leopards had the momentum most of the game, Lakeview's Jake Pishotti stepped up and started knocking down some shots. He scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs' highest scoring frame of the night (20).
The Bulldogs held Liberty to only 10 points, its lowest scoring quarter, in the third due to a half-court trap.
"We came out in a 2-2-1 and tried to pressure them," Mild said. "The key was to try to keep the ball out of Asim's hands. He's a great player. Probably one of the best we play all year. We did a pretty good job of that. We didn't take advantage of when we got them to turn the ball over and miss shots. We need to take advantage of those possessions and we didn't have really good possessions."
Bubon was surprised when they decided to trap, but admitted that tonight was the night to do it because it worked.
"It definitely bothered us," Bubon said. "Normally, a lot of teams don't try to trap us because we usually go through it pretty well and get some easy shots. We had a hard time with it. We were dribbling too much, the guys away from the ball didn't get to the right spots. I give them credit, it really bothered us. Our defense bailed us out because when we weren't scoring and turning the ball over, they weren't scoring either. So we still kept our lead. As we always tell them, as long as the defense is there we'll have a chance to win."
"We always practice and preach finishing games,"?Pleas said. "A lot of our games are determined coming out of halftime in the third quarter. So we have to get over that hump and that's what coach Bubon tells us. It's either going to go up from here or down. So we try to get over that hump and try to get the score up in the fourth quarter so we can kind of control the game and go over stuff methodically."