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Liberty Falls in Overtime to UNCW, Wednesday
Squaring off with UNCW inside Trask Coliseum, Wednesday night, the Liberty men's basketball team went to overtime for the first time, this season.
With Liberty down by four in regulation, point guard Joe Retic knocked down a three-pointer with 13 ticks for a career-high 18 points. Following a UNCW free throw, Big South Freshman of the Week Peter Moller drove to the basket and slipped in a layup with two seconds left to send it the contest into overtime. However, the Flames were held to two field goals during the extra period, allowing the Seahawks to squeak by with the 73-70 win.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 4-6 on the year. The Seahawks improve to 4-3 and are now 4-0 all-time against the Flames. The extra period was reminiscent of the two squads' previous meeting in Trask Coliseum. UNCW defeated Liberty in the facility in overtime that day, 69-64 (Nov. 16, 2010).
Craig Ponder paced the Seahawks with 18 points and nine rebounds, followed by Freddie Jackson, who had 16 points.
Liberty shot 39.4 percent (26-of-66) in Wednesday's contest compared to 45.7 percent (21-of-46) for the Seahawks. The Flames struggled at the foul line, hitting 12-of-23 free throws (52.2 percent). The Flames edged UNCW on points in the paint (34-32), off turnovers (15-11) and second chance tallies (19-13). The Seahawks held the advantage on fast break point, 10-2.
UNCW jumped out to a five-point lead thanks to a Ponder three-pointer and two C.J. Gettys free throws. Liberty countered with a 6-0 run off a pair of Theo Johnson free throws and back-to-back James Johnson baskets. Following another three-pointer by Ponder, Retic knocked down one of his own just before the shot clock expired. Retic's trey put the Flames ahead, 9-8, at 15:18.
The Seahawks regained the lead 30 ticks later and increased the advantage to six with a Ponder free throw at 6:51. The Flames chipped away at the deficit with five unanswered points. A Theo Johnson at layup 4:41 made it a one-point game, 21-20.
UNCW proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, capped by a Jackson three-pointer. Retic responded with a three-pointer on the other end to cut the Seahawks' advantage to five. With time winding down, Ponder ended the half like he started, draining a three-ball with six seconds left on the clock to give UNCW a 31-23 halftime lead.
Ponder and Retic paced their respective teams at the half with 10 points apiece. Smith led all players with seven boards.
The Seahawks shot 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from the field, while holding the Flames to 27.8 percent (8-of-29) during the first 20 minutes of play. UNCW edged Liberty in the paint, 14-10, and outscored the Flames beyond the three-point arc, 12-6. Liberty finished the half with seven turnovers compared to nine for the Seahawks.
With the Seahawks still leading by eight early in the second period, Liberty dissected the deficit off baskets by Smith and Moller. After a Seahawks free throw, two tallies at the charity stripe by David Andoh put the Flames within three, 36-33, at 15:45.
Smith continued to find his rhythm underneath the basket, making it a one-point game with a layup at 11:53. Following a UNCW basket, A.C. Reid knotted the game with a three-pointer. Retic gave the Flames their first lead since the 15:18 mark of the first half, connecting on layup at 10:18. A fast break dunk by Addison Spruill 36 ticks later to tie the game again, 42-42.
The game remained within one possession down the stretch. Tied at 50, Reid hit another big three-pointer to give the Flames a 53-50 cushion at 4:08.
UNCW regained the lead with a Chuck Ogbodo dunk at 2:55. Although Liberty tied the contest to send it to overtime, the Flames could not get over the hump. The Seahawks led by as much as seven tallies during the extra period, eventually holding off Liberty for the 73-70 final.
Liberty returns to the Vines Center, Friday, to host Central Penn. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., with the contest broadcasting live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, ESPN3 and the Big South Sports Network.