Jan 27, 2009

Flames Drop Heartbreaker to Radford in Double Overtime

by Chris McNair and Jake Petersen

A crowd of 7,392 fans filled the Vines Center on Saturday night as the Liberty Flames took on the Radford University Highlanders. What they witnessed was a team that fought hard throughout regulation and forced two overtimes, but eventually fell short as Radford pulled away and won 94-82.

Play was even most of the night. Radford held a slim 35-30 lead after the first half, but the Flames, aided by the hot shooting of senior Anthony Smith and freshman Seth Curry, stormed back in the second half.

A steal and breakaway dunk by Smith with 6:03 left in the game put the Flames up six, but Radford clawed its way back to within one with back-to-back baskets from Kenny Thomas and Joey Lynch-Flohr with 4:53 to go.

The Flames had many big performances, most notably Curry, who led all scorers with 30 points. Smith also played well, netting a double-double for the ninth time in his career with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Kyle Ohman notched 18 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Both of their performances in the second half were crucial in sending the game into overtime. Smith, who could not find his stroke from three-point land in the first half (0-for-3), turned it on in the second half with four three-point field goals, extending the Flames lead down the stretch.

“Just confidence in my shot and repetition… I practice everyday,” Smith said regarding his second half success Saturday night. “If I wasn’t hitting in the first half I knew they would fall eventually.”

Curry nailed an open jumper with 2:29 left in the game to put the Flames up three. Radford responded by using its height to its advantage, tipping in two more buckets to tie the game at 70.

However, with 11 seconds left, Brolin Floyd drove baseline and seemed to have been fouled by Joey Lynch-Flohr, which would have sent the freshman to the charity stripe with a chance to win the game.

However, the official ruled Floyd had stepped out of bounds prior to the foul, giving the ball right back to the Highlanders. Replays would later show Floyd actually did not step out of bounds, prompting many Flames faithful to shower the referees with a serenade of boos.

Radford nearly won the game in the final 10 seconds, but Kenny Thomas failed to tip home two attempts from two feet away, sending the game into the first overtime period.

When asked what his thoughts were on the officiating, Head Coach Ritchie McKay said, “You don’t want to know my answer… next question.”

Following the first overtime period, the Highlanders were able to pull away in the second overtime, outscoring a depleted and tired Flames rotation 16-4.

A balanced Radford scoring effort was led by 6’11’’ Artsiom Parakhouski, who led all Radford scorers with 22 points, 16 rebounds and six blocked shots while playing all 50 minutes. Thomas finished with 21 points and point guard Amir Johnson contributed 16 points.

Lynch-Flohr scored 13 points and Chris McEachin recorded 10.

Led by the performance of Parakhouski and Lynch-Flohr, Radford dominated the Flames in the paint all night, scoring 48 points to Liberty’s 22.

“We’ve got what we think are the two best big men in the league, and we try to make that a focus every game to establish the inside,” Radford Head Coach Mark Greenberg said.

Radford handed Liberty its seventh loss of the season, bringing the Flames’ record to 14-7, while Radford improves to 10-10 and 7-2 in the Big South Conference.

The Flames look to bounce back on Tuesday night as they take on High Point inside the Vines Center at 7 p.m.

Prior to the loss, the Flames had won their four previous games, highlighted by last Tuesday’s come-from-behind 61-56 victory over High Point. In the last 1:43, the Flames scored 14 straight points en route to their 14th win of the season.

Smith was clutch in the final minute and a half, accounting for the first eight points of the stretch, including 5-of-5 from the free throw line. His three-pointer with 34 seconds left brought Liberty to within one at 56-55.

On the next possession, the senior stole the ball from David Singleton, and Ohman put the Flames up by two with a three-pointer from the wing with 17 ticks on the clock remaining.

Smith collected another steal, his fourth of the night, on the next possession and a Curry lay-up sealed the deal for Liberty. Smith finished with 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half, while Ohman sank five three-pointers and collected 19 points and seven rebounds.

The Flames’ homestand continues this Saturday at 7p.m. as they face off against UNC-Asheville

Contact Chris McNair at
cjmcnair@liberty.edu.


Contact Jake Petersen at
jtpetersen@liberty.edu.

 


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