Postgame Quotes: Coach McKay, Myo Baxter-Bell, and Caleb Homesley
Coach McKay Press Conference
No. 12 seed Liberty erased a 10-point second half deficit to record the most historic win in athletics department history, as the Flames knocked off No. 5 seed Mississippi State 80-76, Friday afternoon, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The win pushes Liberty (29-6, 14-2 ASUN) into the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four "March Madness" appearances.
The Flames will face No. 4 seed Virginia Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the SAP Arena. Game time for the contest between Commonwealth opponents will be announced by the NCAA at a later time. The Hokies advanced to Sunday's match following an 80-76 win over No. 13 seed Saint Louis later on Friday evening.
With the game tied at 53-53 with 10:41 left to play in the second half, the Bulldogs scored the game's next 10 points and held the Flames scoreless for nearly four minutes. A driving layup by Lamar Peters gave Mississippi State a 63-53 lead at the 7:18 mark.
A pair of free throws by Caleb Homesley at the 6:58 mark snapped Liberty's scoreless streak and sparked a Flames' 16-4 run that ended with a three-pointer by Homesley to give Liberty a 69-67 lead with 2:34 left in the contest.
Mississippi State briefly regained the lead on a pair of Robert Woodard free throws with 1:36 left, but Liberty scored the game's next five points to take a lead it would never relinquish.
Key Stats and Notes:
First Half Recap
Thoughts from Coach McKay:
Man, really feel blessed to get a chance to do life with these guys, the two on my left (Myo Baxter-Bell and Caleb Homesley) tonight, they are day one guys. They've been with us ever since we took the job. And really great sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the resiliency we showed against a really quality opponent. That team is as good of a team as we've played all year long, and I was really proud of our group for the way they hung in there."
The Flames will now face the No. 4 seed, Virginia Tech, for the opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16. Tip-off against the Hokies is set for 7:10 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 24, and can be seen on TBS. The game will also be on Westwood One Radio. To purchase tickets, click here.
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