The No. 4 seed Virginia Tech Hokies needed a second-half run to pull away from No. 12 seed Liberty, ending the Flames' historic season on Sunday in the second Round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Liberty (29-7, 14-2 ASUN) found themselves in a back-and-forth battle with their fellow Commonwealth foe in a game that saw eight lead changes and was tied a half dozen times.
The loss brings to an end Liberty's school record season which included an ASUN Conference championship during its inaugural season in the league, the program's fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament and their first-ever #MarchMadness win when they knocked off No. 5 seed Mississippi State on Friday.
A three-pointer by senior Lovell Cabbil Jr. and four free throws by redshirt junior Myo Baxter Bell capped a 9-0 run for the Flames and gave Liberty a 41-36 edge with 15:21 left to play in the second half.
However, the Hokies pieced together a 16-3 run over a five-plus minute span to build a lead it would never relinquish. During the five-minute period, Virginia Tech scored 11-straight points and forced the Flames to turn the ball over four times.
The run ended when Justin Robinson hit a layup at 10:21, giving the No. 4 seed Hokies a 52-44 lead.
Key Stats and Notes:
First Half Recap
Thoughts from Coach McKay:
Congratulations to Virginia Tech. Coach Williams, his staff, wonderful, wonderful people. Did a great job in their game planning and excited for their advancement. I said on TV to the telecast after the game that, and I said this to our guys in the locker room, Mike Young, the coach at Wofford, had a great quote, and I think it encapsulates our season. He said, "Don't be sad because it's ended. Be happy because it occurred."
And I think I get the privilege of leading a group of people or being a part of a group of people that are outstanding, and I'm really pleased that we had a season that was special and that that has occurred.