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LU Performs Overtime Sequel Topping Mason
Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay must have loved the outcome of Saturday's double-overtime victory, because he ordered the sequel behind the late-game heroics of Seth Curry, in the Liberty Flames' (5-1) 69-66 overtime victory over the George Mason Patriots (5-2), Monday night, inside the Vines Center.
The Flames played back-to-back overtime games for the first time since January 1996 and Curry hit a three-point basket in each contest to send the Flames to an extra period. On Saturday, Curry hit a bucket to send the William & Mary game into a second overtime. Monday night, he did it against another Colonial Athletic Association member, George Mason.
Liberty wasted no time getting started, as Anthony Smith hit a trey at 18:49, courtesy of two offensive rebounds on the possession. Seth Curry's jumper in the lane at 16:52 put the Flames up, 5-0.
Louis Birdsong got George Mason on the scoreboard at the 16:36 mark, when he sank both his attempts from the charity stripe. The Patriots tallied their first field goal 30 seconds later, on a Darryl Monroe bucket in the paint at 16:06, cutting the Flames' advantage to a point, 5-4.
A Kyle Ohman three-pointer at 14:58 pushed the lead up to four points, 8-4, but the Patriots knotted the contest via two Birdsong buckets, the second coming at 13:00.
The Flames quickly retook the lead on their next possession, 10-8, via a Curry bucket at 12:35. James Spencer hit a trey in the corner off a Curry pass at 12:00 to push Liberty's lead to five points, 13-8.
George Mason was able to cut its deficit by two points via a 12-10 exchange. A Birdsong bucket in the paint at 6:53 ended the run, cutting Liberty's lead to three points, 23-20.
Liberty ended the half on a 9-4 run, extending its lead to eight points, 32-24, going into the intermission. A Smith tip-in at 42.2 ended the first half scoring for both teams.
The Flames shot 39.4 percent (13-of-33) from the floor, including 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from three-point range in the opening stanza.
The Patriots finished the first half connecting on 36.0 percent (9-of-25) from the floor and failed to hit a trey in nine attempts.
Jesse Sanders tallied a bucket at 18:37, pushing Liberty's lead to 10 points, 34-24. However, the Patriots came roaring back, scoring eight straight points to pull within two points, 34-32. A Vaughn bucket at 16:33 finished the run.
Sanders put Liberty back on the scoreboard, 36-32, via two free throws at 15:59. A Birdsong bucket cut the lead back down to two points, 36-34, at 15:23.
The Patriots made a push, taking its first lead of the game at the 11:26 mark, 44-43, courtesy of an Andre Cornelius trey, George Mason's first of the game. That bucket capped a 10-7 run.
Five straight Curry points, capped a 7-4 spurt, helping the Flames reclaim the lead, 51-48, at the 8:09 mark.
Back-to-back points by Cam Long gave the Patriots the advantage, 52-51, with 6:09 remaining in the contest. Later, a Monroe tip-in at 3:52, gave George Mason a two-point lead, 56-54. A Smith bucket and two free throws by Sanders gave Liberty back a two point lead, 58-56, with 1:48 on the clock.
But, the Patriots scored five straight markers on a Long triple and a Birdsong layup, taking a solid three-point advantage, 61-58, with 29 seconds remaining, thus setting the stage for more heroics from Curry.
For the second straight game, Curry nailed a trey, helping send Liberty into overtime. The bucket knotted the game at 61 a piece with 17.7 remaining on the clock. Curry nailed a three-pointer from an identical spot on the floor on Saturday night, tying the game and sending it to double-overtime against William & Mary.
Cornelius put the Patriots up early in the overtime period, tallying a two-pointer in the paint at 4:43, giving George Mason the 63-61 advantage. A Vaughn three-point field goal at 3:31 gave the Patriots a four point lead, 66-62.
The Patriots would not score again, as Smith nailed a trifecta, bringing Liberty within a point, 66-65, with 2:28 left. Then with 40.6 seconds on the clock, Curry rolled off an Ohman screen and nailed an 18-footer, giving Liberty a one point lead, 67-66.
Liberty would never trail again. A Vaughn pass went through the hands of Birdsong and out of bounds with 13.1 seconds left. Curry was fouled by Cornelius before the ball was inbounded, sending the freshman to the line for the one-in-one.
Curry nailed both attempts, giving Liberty the three point lead, 69-66, with 13.1 seconds remaining. George Mason tried to tie the contest on Vaughn's three-point attempt with three seconds left. The attempt hit nothing but iron, but Birdsong grabbed the offensive board. Birdsong tried to dish the ball out to the three point arc, but it went right into the waiting hands of Sanders, sealing the Liberty victory.
The Flames finished the game connecting on 38.5 percent (25-of-65) of its shots from the floor, including 32.4 percent (11-of-34) from three-point range.
Curry, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, tallied a game-high 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-9 from beyond the arc. Curry also scored eight of Liberty's last 11 points. Smith had a stellar game for the Flames, tallying 16 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Ohman chipped in 16 points and pulled down four caroms in the victory. Sanders dished out six assists and pulled down a gritty five rebounds, to go with seven points.
The win gives Liberty three non-conference victories over intra-state Division I teams for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Liberty beat James Madison (79-70), Richmond (64-61 2OT) and Virginia Tech (62-61).
George Mason finished the game connecting on 42.9 percent (27-of-63) of its shots, including 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from long range, after being held without a three-point field goal in the opening stanza.
Long led the Patriots with 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while Vaughn added 14 points. Birdsong added 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while adding four blocks.
The Flames return to the hardwood and Big South Conference play on Saturday, when new league member Gardner-Webb enters the Vines Center. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.