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Gillis Jumper Puts Chanticleers over Flames
The Liberty men's basketball team returned to the site where it won the 2013 Big South Championship, Wednesday night. While the Flames eliminated Coastal Carolina inside The HTC Center back in March, the Chanticleers had other plans this time around.
Despite Liberty holding a five-point lead with 3:39 remaining, the Chanticleers hit two crucial three-pointers to help erase the deficit and received a short fade-away jumper from Warren Gillis with 1.6 seconds to put Coastal Carolina ahead. Antwan Burrus had a good look from outside the three-point arc, but the ball bounced off the left side of the rim, allowing the Chanticleers to hang on for the 66-64 decision.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 9-13 overall and 3-4 in Big South play. Coastal improves to 12-9 on the year and 5-2 in conference action.
Liberty shot 44.2 percent (23-of-52) from the field in the contest, compared to 46.8 for the Chanticleers.
Burrus paced the Flames with 15 points, followed by Andrew Smith (11), Tomasz Gielo (10) and Davon Marshall (10). Gielo also led the Flames with eight rebounds.
Gillis finished with a game-high 18 points for the Chanticleers. Josh Cameron (13), Elijah Wilson (13) and Badou Diagne (11) rounded out Coastal Carolina's double-figure scorers.
Coastal Carolina started the contest with a 7-0 lead, capped by a Diagne three-pointer. Liberty answered with an 11-2 burst, highlighted by a trey and a jumper from Casey Roberts. Burrus followed up with a layup to give the Flames an 11-9 advantage at 14:58.
The contest remained close, with four ties taking place during the next 6:09. A Gielo three-pointer at 7:35 broke up the stalemate, giving Liberty a 21-18 edge.
Coastal Carolina reclaimed the lead less than a minute later thanks to a Wilson three-pointer. After a Burrus free throw, Liberty went back on top off a Marshall trey to make it 27-24 at 5:39. The Flames managed to hold off the Chanticleers for the remainder of the period to carry a slim 32-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Both teams were nearly even after the first period, finishing the stanza 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) from the field and 4-of-10 (40.0 percent) from three-point land. The one-point difference came at the foul line, with Liberty holding a 6-5 edge.
Marshall led the Flames at intermission with seven points. Wilson and Gillis paced the Chanticleers with eight points apiece.
Coastal Carolina struck first in the second half, taking a four-point lead in the opening two minutes. The Chanticleers maintained its advantage until a Smith bucket put the Flames ahead by two, 44-42, with 10:46 remaining.
A Marshall three-pointer gave Liberty a two-point edge with 8:03 left. The Flames expanded the lead to five with less than four minutes to play, but a Cameron trey cut it to two. After a Burrus layup, Diagne countered with another three-ball, while a Wilson free throw and jumper later gave the Chanticleers the advantage. A dunk by Smith instituted the game's 14th tie, but Willis answered on the other end with the game-winner.
Liberty heads to Charleston, S.C., on Saturday in a rematch of the 2013 Big South Championship final versus Charleston Southern. The contest marks Liberty's first meeting with the Buccaneers inside the Buc Dome since Burrus nailed a 30-foot buzzer beating three-pointer that gave the Flames a 75-74 victory (Feb. 9, 2012). Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m., with the contest airing on ESPN3.