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Last Second Shot Lifts Buccaneers over Flames In Big South Action
Ferdinand Cain got an offensive rebound and stuck it back with 11.6 second left, while the Flames let a 10-point halftime lead slip away as Charleston Southern claimed a 73-71 Big South victory, Monday evening, at CSU Fieldhouse.
With the victory, Charleston Southern snaps its four-game conference losing streak and improves to 3-6 in league play (8-12 overall), while the loss marks Liberty's seventh-straight against a conference opponent and drops Liberty's league record to 1-7 (4-16 overall).
Both teams started the game with a pair of hot-shooting hands as both squads hit four out of their first five shots from the field. A three-pointer by Dwayne Jackson gave Charleston Southern a 9-7 edge, while Liberty tied the game on the ensuing possession as Damien Hubbard (Jr., G/F, Boyce, Va.) took a pass from Russell Monroe (So., C, Alma, Mich.) for a lay-up at the 16:33 mark.
The Buccaneers kept their shooting touch over the next two minutes as a lay-up by Vernon Huger gave Charleston Southern a four-point edge, 15-11, with 13:53 left to play before the intermission. However, Liberty scored 10-straight points, including back-to-back three-pointers by Anthony Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas), to take a six-point lead, 21-15, after a pair of free throws by Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) at the 12:03 mark.
The Flames continued to maintain their six-point lead over the next two minutes as Monroe converted on an old-fashion play with a put-back and a free throw with 9:59 left before halftime to give Liberty a 26-20 lead. But the Flames were held to just one field goal over the next five minutes, allowing Charleston Southern to cut the lead to just one point, 26-25, on a lay-up by Cain at the 4:36 mark.
However, Doug Stewart (So., G, Sanford, N.C.) came off the bench to give the Flames a needed spark as the guard netted all 10 of his first half points over the final four minutes of the period, starting with a three-pointer with 4:14 left in the half.
Four minutes later, Stewart completed a 9-3 Liberty run to close the half with another trey with 47 seconds left before the intermission to give Liberty a 38-28 edge at the break. Liberty shot 48.1 percent (13-of-27) from the field in the opening 20 minutes and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line, while cooling Charleston Southern down after the opening minutes to just 38.5 percent from the field (10-of-26).
A jumper by Blair 57 seconds into the second half gave Liberty an 11-point lead, 40-29, and the Flames looked like they were in control. But Charleston Southern scored seven-straight points to get within four points, 40-36, on a Terrell Brown lay-up with 16:07 left to play. Blair tried to keep things going as he scored 10-straight points for the Flames and his three-pointer at the 13:51 mark gave Liberty a 48-42 lead.
Charleston Southern scored seven of the game's next eight points to tie the game at 49-49 on a lay-up by Vernon Huger with 10:47 left to play. Evan Risher (So., G, Fort Worth, Texas) hit a three-pointer from the corner on the next possession to give Liberty a three-point lead.
The Flames maintained the lead until the 3:05 mark when Cain tied the game at 67-67 with a lay-up. On the ensuing possession, Rell Porter (So., G, Pittsburg, Texas) nailed a three-pointer, while Chris Moore tied the game with a three-pointer with 2:01 left to play.
The score remained the same until Cain tipped one in with 28 seconds left to give Charleston Southern a two-point lead, 72-70. The Flames gave the ball to Blair and the guard drove the lane and was fouled, sending the 76.6 free throw percentage shooter to the line, where he converted on his first attempt, but missed the second. Trent Drafts pulled down the rebound, was fouled and converted on 1-of-2 attempts from the line to seal the victory.
Moore paced the way for the Buccaneers with 22 points as he was 6-of-14 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line, while Cain netted 13 points and recorded two blocked shots.
Blair recorded his fourth-straight 20-point game for the first time in his career as he scored 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting and 7-of-8 from the free throw line, while Hubbard and Smith followed with 11 points each.
After playing five out of their last six games on the road, the Flames will finally return home to host in-state rival VMI on Thursday evening in the Vines Center. The contest will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the Big South Television Network.