Men’s Basketball Routs North Florida, Extends Home Winning Streak
The streak continues. After the Liberty men’s basketball team defeated the North Florida Ospreys by a score of 80-60 Saturday, Feb. 13, the Flames are now on a 34-game winning streak at home.
The last time the Flames lost a game at home was against their conference rival Lipscomb University January 29, 2019. This win streak is second only to the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
After the doubleheader against the Ospreys, junior Darius McGhee explained how it felt to be a part of this historic winning streak.
“It’s definitely something unique to be a part of,” McGhee said. “It’s meaningful to come home and you want to secure home at all times and win each and every game. So, it’s definitely a great feeling.”
Although the Flames beat the Ospreys in back-to-back games in convincing fashion after taking a 73-61 win Feb. 12, the previous battles between these two teams have been very close. Before the Flames played the doubleheader against North Florida, the series record stood at 3-3.
“We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle, just because of how well coached North Florida is and the kind of culture that they have,” Head Coach Ritchie McKay said. “They are a winning program and expect to win, so I felt good about the way we responded to their start.”
Though the Flames have built their reputation on their defense, the young Liberty team is also well-versed in scoring the basketball, with three players currently averaging at least 10 points per game. With the way the Flames move the basketball, it is hard to predict who will be the leading scorer.
“Most occasions on this team you never know who’s going to be the leading scorer or whose night it’s going to be,” McKay said. “But our guys really share the ball and play for one another, and it’s very rewarding as a coach to watch.”
The first half of this game belonged to starting guard Darius McGhee. McGhee was in the groove right out of the gates, scoring 13 points in the first seven minutes. If that was not impressive enough, McGee ended the first half with a step-back three at the buzzer, leaving him at 19 points for the half.
McGhee credited his hot start to his teammates.
“I was feeling normal, just trying to flow within the offense and find the greatest shot possible,” McGhee said. “We always fight as a team to get a great shot offense.”
Just as McGhee had his offensive game flowing in the first half, senior Chris Parker caught fire in the second half.
Parker scored 11 points in the second half and shot 60% from the three-point line. With less than 6 minutes left in the second half, the Ospreys cut their deficit to 10 points. However, after a 7-0 run by the Ospreys, Parker made a corner three and then McGhee sank another three-point shot right after that, which sparked an 11-0 run by the Flames.
“They were starting to come back a little bit and we just wanted to make sure they didn’t have any confidence or any momentum,” Parker said. “So, I think our back-to-back threes were huge.”
The Flames are now 8-2 in the ASUN Conference and are starting to prepare for the ASUN Men’s Basketball Championship which starts March 3.
Emmanuel Adamson is a Social Media Manager. Follow him on Twitter at @Eadamson12.