Men’s basketball falls in first triple overtime game in program history
- UNCG relied on junior guard Francis Alanso to score critical points that lead to the Spartans 76-75 victory against Liberty men’s basketball.
- Strong defensive skills by the Flames kept them in the game through both regulation and the triple overtime.
Despite leading by 11 points with under five minutes remaining in regulation, the Liberty University men’s basketball team failed to contain Spartans junior guard Francis Alanso as he scored the final basket to steal the win over the Flames 76-75 in Liberty’s first triple overtime game in program history Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Vines Center.
With under 10 seconds remaining in the third overtime, Liberty R-senior guard Ryan Kemrite found himself on the free-throw line shooting two shots following a UNCG offensive foul. The Flames trailed by a single point, and the weight of all 55 minutes fell on Kemrite’s shoulders. At least one of the two free-throws were essential to keep the Flames alive.
Kemrite rotated the ball in his hands—as part of his routine—took one dribble then rotated the ball once more before taking his shot.
Kemrite’s confidence resulted in two perfect free-throws—no rim.
Trailing by one point, the Spartans relied on junior guard Francis Alanso to deliver the victory. At the end of regulation, Alanso scored a banked 3-pointer to force overtime, then he scored two more key 3-pointers that added two more periods to the game.
It was only fitting for Alanso to take the final shot with under 10 seconds left.
After letting the ball roll on the court, saving time, Alanso was closely pursued by his defender, Liberty freshman guard Elijah Cuffee.
Careful not to foul, Cuffee stretched as high as he could to prevent Alanso from scoring. As Alanso drove toward the paint, the Liberty defense collapsed, and Alanso was met by R-sophomore guard Caleb Homesley. After making slight contact with Homesley, who fell backwards in an attempt to draw a charge, Alanso shot a 10-foot floater.
The basketball found its mark, and the Spartans bounced ahead 76-75 with two seconds remaining.
“I thought the referee was going to call a charge,” Liberty sophomore guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz said. “But he didn’t. It was a tough shot.”
Alanso finished with 36 points, 31 of which came in the second half.
For Liberty, R-sophomore forward Scottie James finished with 19 points, including two important free-throws to help his team advance into the second overtime.
Junior guard Lovell Cabbil contributed with 16 points and Pacheco-Ortiz racked in 13.
“We went to war with them,” Pacheco-Ortiz said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but I’m very proud of my team.”
Eleven score ties and 12 lead changes characterized the game, the largest lead being in the second half when the Flames held an 11-point advantage.
UNCG’s sophomore forward James Dickey recorded 14 rebounds, six of them offensive. For Liberty, James led in rebounds with four offensive rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds.
According to Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay, Cabbil and Cuffee executed good defense against Alanso despite the UNCG point guard scoring so many.
“I thought our effort was terrific,” McKay said. “We’ll watch the film and ask how we defend it better, because I don’t know if you can.”
As the clock wound down during the third overtime, James and Cabbil—two key players for Liberty—fouled out.
“I’m not going to blame the referees,” Cabbil said. “If we would have won, I wouldn’t have said anything bad about the referees. It’s just how the game works out sometimes, and we got to deal with it.”
Although disappointed by the outcome, the Flames are trying to use the loss as motivation to play hard before conference play begins against Gardner-Webb University Saturday, Dec. 30 in North Carolina.
The remaining non-conference matchups include the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Kentucky Christian University and Fort Wayne.
“It’s a long season,” Pacheco-Ortiz said. “We have time to improve and get better every day.”
Both the Flames and the Spartans capitalized on more than 30 percent of their shots. The Spartans, however, outshot the Flames by almost double from beyond the arch. Of Liberty’s 23 attempts, only four 3-pointers found their mark.
McKay said Liberty executed good defensive pressure despite losing. He added that the motive coming into each game is to win instead of only hoping for positive results.
“It’s tough that anyone had to lose that one,” McKay said. “Sometimes it’s hard to measure your growth by the outcome of a scoreboard.”
The Flames next home game is against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.