Liberty boys basketball coach Stefan Berg wasn’t concerned with the final score Thursday, which ended up 70-40 in favor of Mater Dei (California), by the way.
Berg was looking for positives from the showcase game at the Tarkanian Classic that the Patriots could build on when bracket play begins Friday.
In the second half at Bishop Gorman, he found a few.
“I’m trying to build a program where we’ll play anybody and everybody and not be scared of anybody,” Berg said. “I was just disappointed in the first half that our kids did not compete. But they showed improvement at halftime and competed in the second half.”
Senior Dyllan Robinson led Liberty (1-4) with 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, including a rejection late that landed seven rows deep. Robinson had 11 points in the second half when Liberty outscored the Monarchs 28-26.
Julian Strawther finished with six points on 3-for-9 shooting and added six rebounds. The freshman opened the scoring when he buckled the knees of a Mater Dei defender with a crossover dribble at the top of the key and finished through traffic at the rim.
But that was the Patriots’ lone highlight in the first half. Mater Dei, ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today, shot 60.1 percent from the field (20-for-33) and led 44-12 at halftime.
Justice Sueing led Mater Dei (8-0) with 16 points and seven rebounds. Harrison Butler had 12 points, and center Miles Brookins, a La Salle recruit, added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Monarchs.
“In the first half, we didn’t play hard. We settled for jumpers. We weren’t aggressive. We didn’t attack the basket,” Berg said. “In the second half, we started attacking the basket and good things started to happen our way.”
Liberty opens the Tarkanian Classic against North Catholic (Pennsylvania) at 7:20 p.m. Friday at Desert Oasis.
“We just competed in the second half with a top-(seven) team in the country,” Berg said. “We can definitely take something, we just have to compete and play hard for the full 32 minutes.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.