Kyle Ohman tallied 22 first half points to help lift Liberty over Radford on Saturday night.
The Liberty Flames (21-10, 12-6 BSC) secured the No. 3 seed in the Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship after going into the Dedmon Center, Saturday night, and topping the Big South regular-season champion Radford Highlanders (18-11, 15-3 BSC), 92-85. In the series' 54th meeting, Liberty's victory is its fourth all-time at Radford in a series that dates back to 1975. However, the Flames have won two of the past three meetings in the Dedmon Center, after losing the previous nine times entering the New River Valley. Liberty worked quickly, taking the 3-0 lead via a Kyle Ohman trey at 19:21. Radford countered with five straight points, grabbing a 5-2 advantage. Kenny Thomas hit a three to get things started for the Highlanders and followed up with a layup at 17:14, capping the run. The Flames used an Austin Smith jumper and six straight Seth Curry points to hold a narrow 11-9 lead. Curry was fouled at 15:07 by Thomas, sinking the three-point bucket and the ensuing free throw, his Liberty record 41st straight make from the charity stripe. Curry would later snap his streak during the opening stanza, missing the front end of a one-in-one situation. After Austin Smith hit another bucket at the 14:21 mark, Ohman began his efficient first half surge, connecting on five three-point buckets on five attempts, while adding a two-pointer at 5:50 to cap the run. Austin Smith was the only other Flame to score during the Ohman barrage. When the Mechanicsburg, Pa., native was done, Liberty had staked themselves to a nine point lead, 32-23. Tyler Baker took a cue from Ohman, scoring eight of the next nine Liberty points. After hitting both his free throws following a Joey Lynch-Flohr foul at 1:50, Liberty had pushed its lead up to 13 points, 41-28. Eric Hall and Artsiom Parakhouski each tallied field goals, coupled with an Amir Johnson free throw, allowing the Highlanders to cut their defecit to 12 points, 45-33, going into the intermission. Liberty connected on 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the floor, including 46.7 percent (7-of-15) from beyond the arc. Ohman led all scorers with 22 first half points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 6-of-7 from three-point range. Radford hit at a 42.9 percent (12-of-28) clip, including 22.2 percent (2-of-9) from three-point land during the opening 20 minutes of the contest. The Highlanders stormed out of the break, cutting their deficit down to seven points, 48-41, courtesy of an 8-3 spurt. A Parakhouski bucket at 16:50 ended the run for the Highlanders. Liberty utilized back-to-back Bill Weaver layups, the second raising Liberty's advantage up to 12 points, 54-42, with 13:25 left to play in the contest. Radford would cut the Liberty lead in half quickly, 54-48, using three straight Lynch-Flohr free throws, finishing off a 6-0 Highlander run at 10:53. However, Radford would never cut its deficit closer, as Liberty eventually pushed its lead up to 12 points, 68-56, after a Curry trey at 4:55. By the 2:28 mark, Radford was forced to foul in order to speed up offensive possessions. Anthony Smith nailed both his attempts after a Thomas infraction. The Big South Preseason Player of the Year's makes made it a 14 point Liberty lead, 74-60. Nothing much changed with 56 seconds when Anthony Smith dunked home two points, giving Liberty a 12 point lead, 88-76. Radford made a valiant effort in the final 56 ticks, but the Flames held on to the road victory, 92-85. Liberty finished the game hitting 50 percent (25-of-50) from the floor, including 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from three-point range. The game marks the 10th time this season and the first time in four games Liberty has tallied at least 50 percent of its field goal attempts. Curry led the way with 25 points and four assists. Ohman spent much of the second stanza in foul trouble, but thanks to a solid first half he finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Baker added 10 points and two rebounds, while James Spencer registered career highs with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists, while turning the ball over zero times. Radford hit 45.0 percent (27-of-60) from the floor on the game, while succeeding on only 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from three-point land. Parakhouski led all scorers with 39 points on 15-of-19 shooting, while pulling down a game-high 19 rebounds. Thomas added 23 points, while Johnson chipped in nine points and five assists in the losing effort. Liberty returns to action on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Big South Championship. Liberty will host a first round game at 7 p.m., inside the Vines Center. Liberty's opponent will be the No. 6 seed Gardner-Webb Bulldogs.
Quarterfinals - Tuesday, March 3 (at top four seeds) Game 1: No. 2 VMI hosts No. 7 Coastal Carolina, 7:00pm ET (at Lexington, Va.) Game 2: No. 3 Liberty hosts No. 6 Gardner-Webb, 7:00pm ET (at Lynchburg, Va.), TV: FTN Game 3: No. 1 Radford hosts No. 8 High Point, 7:00pm ET (at Radford, Va.) Game 4: No. 4 UNC Asheville hosts No. 5 Winthrop, 7:00pm ET (at Asheville, N.C.) Semifinals - Thursday, March 5 (at Dedmon Center, Radford, Va.) Game 5: Semifinals – No. 2/No. 7 winner vs. No. 3/No. 6 winner, 6:00pm ET; TV: ESPNU Game 6: Semifinals – No. 1/No. 8 winner vs. No. 4/No. 5 winner, 8:00pm ET; TV: ESPNU Championship - Saturday, March 7 (at highest remaining seed) Game 7: Championship - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:00pm ET; TV: ESPN2