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Radford Edges Liberty on Senior Day, 87-83
Looking to carry a three-game win streak into the 2014 Big South Championship, the Liberty men's basketball team hosted Radford inside the Vines Center for the Flames' senior day, Saturday afternoon. Despite the Flames holding a 12-point lead with 7:25 remaining, a 13-2 Highlanders run turned the tide, leading to an 87-83 decision in favor of Radford.
With the defeat, Liberty concludes the season with an 11-20 overall record and a 5-11 mark in conference play. The Flames are the No. 5 seed out of the North Division for the tournament and will take on No. 4 South seed Winthrop, Wednesday, at noon inside The HTC Center.
Radford finishes the regular season 20-11 on the season and 10-6 in conference play. The Highlanders will take on No. 6 South seed Presbyterian College, Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Liberty concluded the afternoon shooting 50.9 percent (29-of-57), compared to 47.7 percent (31-of-65) for the Highlanders. Each team knocked down eight three-pointers on the night, but Radford held a 40-30 advantage inside the paint. Although Liberty averaged eight turnovers in each of the last three games, the Flames committed 16 turnovers, translating into 19 Radford points.
Antwan Burrus led the Flames with 19 points and eight rebounds in his final game at the Vines Center. Three other Liberty players finished in double-digit scoring figures – Tomasz Gielo (16), John Caleb Sanders (14) and Davon Marshall (13).
Radford's Javonte Green finished with a game-high 25 points. Ya Ya Anderson followed up with 19 points all coming in the second half, while Rashun Davis chipped in 18 tallies.
Prior to the contest, Liberty honored its six seniors – Burrus, JR Coronado, Marshall, Casey Roberts, Sanders and Joel Vander Pol.
Liberty jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the early moments, thanks in part to five points from Burrus. Radford countered with five unanswered points, including a Davis layup at 13:22 to knot the contest at 11.
The Highlanders led by four after a Green dunk at 9:04. Marshall responded with a three-pointer 27 ticks later to cut the deficit to one. Following a Green free throw, a Sanders layup at 7:39 tied the game again, 24-24.
Liberty took a five-point lead with 4:26 remaining thanks to a Gielo three-pointer. With the Flames up by three in the final minute of the half, Marshall swished another trey with 34 ticks left to give Liberty a 40-34 halftime lead.
Liberty concluded the first half shooting 57.1 percent (16-of-28), while the Highlanders shot 43.1 percent (14-of-32). Radford edged the Flames in the paint, 22-18, but Liberty held a 12-6 advantage from beyond the three-point line.
Green led all players at the half with 16 points. Gielo paced the Flames' offense with 12 tallies during the first 20 minutes.
Liberty maintained its lead until a Green layup gave the Highlanders a 43-42 lead at the 16:30 mark.
The contest turned into a seesaw battle, with four ties and seven lead changes taking place during a 4:30 span.
With the contest tied at 56, Liberty went on an 8-0 run. After two Burrus free throws, Sanders knocked down back-to-back three-pointers from the left corner, giving the Flames a 64-56 lead with 10:40 remaining.
Liberty continued to pull away, thanks in part to big dunks by Burrus and Andrew Smith. A Sanders free throw made it a 12-point game, 73-61, with 7:35 left on the clock.
The Highlanders countered, going on a 13-2 run during the next 3:47. Radford's burst included two three-pointers from Anderson and another by R.J. Price. Price's trey put the visitors ahead by two at 3:39, 77-75.
Radford remained in the lead, taking a five-point advantage in the final 11 seconds. Marshall nailed his third three-pointer of the ball game with six ticks left, but the Flames were forced to foul. Davis sunk two free throws for Radford to seal the 87-83 win.