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Liberty Secures Third Place In Big South With First Win At Radford In 10 Years
The 50th meeting between the Liberty Flames (14-16, 8-6 BSC) and the Radford Highlanders (8-21, 3-11 BSC) had monumental meaning as the Flames nailed down third place in the Big South with a 64-48 victory over the Highlanders at the Dedmon Center on Saturday afternoon.
With Coastal Carolina losing 83-69 to Winthrop earlier in the day, Liberty clinched possession of third place in the conference regular-season finale. The Flames are set to Face VMI for the second time in a week in the quarterfinals of the Big South Championship. VMI lost to High Point and UNC Asheville beat Charleston Southern leading to the Keydets falling from fifth place to sixth place.
The victory also served as Liberty's third win all-time at Radford and first since Feb. 22, 1997, when the Flames were victorious 89-75. After snapping a 21-game road losing streak earlier in the season, the Flames are now on a two-game road winning streak.
The first half was a sea-saw battle that started with Radford jumping out to an 8-5 lead on the back of back-to-back free throws by Chris Oliver at the 15:21 mark.
The Flames took an 11-8 edge as Liberty scored six-straight points, capped by a Justin Holland rebound and put back with 12:44 left in the opening period.
The Highlanders bounced back to take a 17-15 lead after a 9-4 run that was finished off by an Oliver bucket at the 6:04 mark. The Flames regained the lead at the break, finishing off the half on a 16-8 run that saw Tyler Baker hit a deep three-point basket with six seconds remaining in the half to take a 31-25 lead going into the break.
The Flames held the rebound advantage at 25-12 and hit 41.7 percent of their shots on 10-of-24 shooting. The Highlanders were limited to 35.7 percent shooting on 10-of-28 shooting, including 0-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Radford opened the second half on a 13-8 run to cut the Flames' lead to 39-38 when Martell McDuffy hit the team's first three-point basket of the contest with 12:32 left in the game.
The Flames then exploded on a 25-9 run to close out the game, finishing the run on a Holland easy-transition bucket with 36.5 seconds left to give Liberty the 64-47 lead. Amir Johnson hit 1-of-2 free throws with 28.6 seconds left but it wasn't enough as Liberty held on to its second-straight road victory.
Liberty outrebounded the Highlanders 44-29 and hit on 44.0 percent of its shots on 22-of-50 shooting. Radford was limited to 18-of-53 shooting for 34.0 percent, including 8.3 percent on 1-of-12 from three-point range.
Alex McLean earned his 12th double-double of the season and second straight with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Larry Blair led all scorers with 17 points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing three assists. Anthony Smith rounded out the top performers for the Flames with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Oliver notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-19 shooting while Reggie McIntyre chipped in 11 points in the loss.
Liberty will return to action on Tuesday in the first round of the Big South Championship at the Vines Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m. against VMI the designated sixth seed.