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Buccaneers Edge Liberty in the Vines Center, 79-75
Liberty hung neck-and-neck with the Big South Conference's only undefeated team, Saturday night, inside the Vines Center. In the end, South Division leader Charleston Southern outlasted the Flames, improving to 7-0 in conference play with a 79-75 victory.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 6-15 overall and 2-5 in Big South action. Charleston Southern moves to 12-6 overall on the season.
Davon Marshall led the Flames with his second best scoring performance of the season, posting 23 points. Tavares Speaks recorded double digits in points for the 10th straight game, finishing with 15 points.
Marshall's seven three-pointers are the most since Kyle Ohman knocked down seven in a 103-88 victory over VMI in the 2008 Big South Championship (March 4, 2008). Marshall is now one of five players in school history tied for second in single-game three-pointers made.
Charleston Southern leading scorer Saah Nimley led the Buccaneers with 23 points, hitting 6-of-12 three-pointers while grabbing 10 rebounds. Arlon Harper followed up with 19 points and eight boards. Muo Mathiang closed out the Bucs double digit scoring with 14 tallies, while Allie Fullah pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Buccaneers shot 44.1 percent from the field, hitting 30-of-68 attempts. Liberty finished the contest shooting 37.5 percent (24-of-64). Three-pointers themed the game, with Liberty sinking 11 compared to 10 for the Bucs. Despite Charleston Southern leading the conference in rebounding coming in to the contest, the Flames edged the Buccaneers on the glass, 44-42.
Liberty jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a jumper and three-pointer by Speaks. Following a trey from Muo, Speaks answered with another jumper to once again give the Flames a two possession lead. The Buccaneers proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, cementing the burst with an Arlon Harper fast break layup.
Liberty answered with 9-0 run of its own, highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from Davon Marshall and Casey Roberts. The surge gave the Flames a three-point advantage. Charleston Southern regained the lead, 17-16, at 11:29 thanks to a Harper jumper and a Nimley fast break layup.
Once again, Liberty reclaimed the lead at 8:17, courtesy of a Marshall three-pointer. Muo countered with a layup on the other end to put the Buccaneers back up by one.
Charleston Southern led by as much as seven points in the final minutes of the half. Liberty cut its deficit to three, thanks to a third Marshall three-pointer and two Speaks free throws, making it 41-38 in favor of the Bucs at halftime.
The visitors looked to pull away in the second half. After beginning the period with five unanswered points, Charleston Southern later took a nine point lead off a Nimley three-pointer at 11:25.
A three-point contest ensued at the 8:31 mark. Marshall sank a trey to put the Flames within four. Following a counter three-pointer by Nimley on the other end, Roberts followed up with one of his own for the Flames, making it a four-point game once again, 70-66, with 8:01 remaining.
The Flames tied the contest with four minutes left, when John Caleb Sanders knotted it at 74 with a layup.
The remaining minutes came down to free throws, as Liberty hit 1-of-2 and Charleston Southern connected on 5-of-7, resulting in the 79-75 final.
Charleston Southern returns home on Wednesday to host Gardner-Webb. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Liberty concludes its three game homestand, squaring off with North Division leader Campbell on Tuesday. The contest tips off at 7 p.m. and will air live on the Liberty Channel, ESPN3, MASN and Comcast Sports South.