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Radford Hands Liberty 89-88 Setback
Following the loss, Liberty falls to 12-10 on the season and 4-3 in Big South play. Radford improves to 6-15 and 1-5 in Big South play.
Liberty wasted no time getting started, jumping out to an 8-2 lead, courtesy of B.J. Jenkins layup at 17:55. Besides a Martell McDuffy jumper at 18:35, Liberty managed to keep Radford off the scoreboard till Amir Johnson sank two free throws at 16:07, cutting Liberty's lead to four, 8-4.
Back-to-back Anthony Smith buckets, his second coming at 13:28, extended the Liberty lead to five points, 12-7. Radford then went out on a 7-0 run, to take their first lead at 13-12. McDuffy capped the run with his jumper at 13:08.
Radford extended its lead to three points, 18-15, via a McDuffy bucket at 7:16. Liberty tied the contest at 18 when Alex McLean sank the front end of a two shot foul at 5:38. The Highlanders quickly went on a 7-3 spurt to take a 25-21 advantage. Joey Lynch-Flohr capped the run when he hit the front end of a one-in-one at 1:58.
The Highlanders held a 7-5 advantage over the final two minutes to enter the intermission with a 32-26 lead.
After hitting its first four field goal attempts to open the game, Liberty struggled from the floor, hitting 38.1 percent (8-of-21) of its shots, including 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from the floor. Radford connected on 46.4 percent (13-of-28) of its shots in the first half, including 28.6 percent (2-of-7) from three-point range. Radford used nine first half turnovers by the Flames to score nine points, while edging Liberty by one in rebounds, 17-16.
Jenkins stole a McDuffy's in bounds pass to start the second stanza and scored on the breakaway to cut the Flames' deficit to four points, 32-26, setting the stage for a fast paced second half.
Radford quickly went on a 5-0 run, capped by Lynch-Flohr at 16:40, to extend its lead to 39-30. A 10-5 jaunt pushed Radford's lead to a game-high 14 points, 49-35, with 13:22 left in the contest. Amir Johnson's three-point bucket capped the run.
Liberty roared back on the heels of a 15-2 run, cutting the Highlander lead to one point, 51-50. Jeremy Anderson's layup in transition capped the run at 9:45.
Within 90 seconds, the Radford lead was back to eight points, 61-53, via a Kenny Thomas three-point bucket that capped a 10-2 run with 8:06 left in the second stanza.
Radford then extended the lead to 11 points, 75-64, when Johnson hit a jumper in the lane with 2:37 left in the game.
But never say die attitude of the Flames cut the deficit to four points, 76-72, when Jenkins tallied a layup with 1:47 remaining.
Radford was able to push the lead back up to seven points, 81-74, when Johnson hit the second free throw of a two-shot foul from the charity stripe with 49 seconds remaining.
However, the game was far from over, as Ritchie McKay had his troops in quick foul mode after Anderson hit his three-point attempt with 42 seconds left. Anderson's bucket cut the Radford advantage to four points, 81-77.
And McKay's technique worked, as Liberty was able to cut the deficit to two points, 87-85, when TeeJay Bannister hit both his free throw attempts with five seconds left.
Justin Holland fouled McDuffy on the in bounds play. Radford, who was already in the double bonus, pushed the lead back to four points, 89-85, when McDuffy sank both free throw attempts.
Bannister ran right down the floor and sank a three-point basket with three-tenths of a second remaining, bringing Liberty within one point, 89-88. However, Johnson was able to break free from Smith, catching the in bounds play to secure the victory for the Highlanders.
Liberty's shooting hand heated up halfway through the second half, finishing the second stanza hitting 53.1 percent (17-of-32) to conclude the game connecting on 47.2 percent (25-of-53) of its overall attempts. Radford connected on 49.2 percent (29-of-59) from the floor, including 42.1 percent (8-of-19) from three-point range. The difference in the game was the rebounding margin as the Flames by 14 caroms, 42-28, allowing Radford to score 18 second-chance points.
Five Flames reached double figures, led by Jenkins' 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Bannister tallied a career-high 19 points and dished out nine assists. Bannister went a perfect 16-of-16 from the free throw line, marking another career high. Anderson added 14 points, while Smith and McLean each chipped in 10 points in the losing cause.
Radford was led by McDuffy's 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Johnson added 17 second half points to finish with 21. Thomas chipped in 16 points in the win.
Liberty continues its three-game road trip when the Flames travel to High Point on Wednesday. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m., inside the Millis Center.