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Chanticleers Clinch No. 1 Seed Against Flames

February 25, 2010  Conway, S.C.  RSS
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Jesse Sanders grabbed seven boards in Liberty's matchup with Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

Jesse Sanders grabbed seven boards in Liberty's matchup with Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

Hoping to stay alive in the fight for the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Big South Men's Basketball Championship, the Liberty men's basketball stepped into the Kimbel Arena on Saturday, squaring off with conference leader Coastal Carolina.

Unfortunately for the Flames, Coastal Carolina took advantage of Liberty's missed opportunities, jumping out early to an early lead, taking the contest, 71-48, en route to its fifth regular-season conference title and first since 1991.

Coastal Carolina lit up the scoreboard in the early minutes, opening with a 7-0 run off baskets by Joseph Harris and Logan Johnson. Kyle Ohman posted Liberty's first pair of tallies at 16:16, netting a layup to make it a five-point game, 7-2.

Following a basket by Harris to up Coastal's advantage, 9-2, Antwan Burrus laid it in to trim it back to five, 9-4, at 15:29. Harris found nylon again 26 seconds later, countering the basket by Burrus to give Coastal an 11-4 edge.

After an Ohman jumper put the Flames within five again, 11-6, the Chanticleers proceeded to go on a 15-1 tear, highlighted by five-straight points from Mario Edwards and back-to-back traditional three-point plays by Chad Gray. Harris capped off the run with a shot at the foul line to make it 26-7 with 5:29 remaining in the half.

Gordon ended Liberty's near 10-minute scoreless drought from the field at the 5:02 mark, sinking a trey to trim it to 16, 28-10. The Chanticleers outscored the Flames by three, 8-5, in the closing minutes to head into the locker room with a 34-15 lead at halftime.

Gray led the way in scoring for the home team at the half with 10 tallies, followed by Harris, who finished with seven. Despite coming off a career-high 39 points last Saturday against High Point, Ohman was held to only four points in the opening period.

The Chanticleers shot 48.3 percent from the field (14-of-29), while holding Liberty at the other end to 23.1 percent (6-of-26).

In the second half, Coastal Carolina picked up where it left off, as Johnson hit a trey to open the period, giving the host a 22-point advantage at 19:21, 37-15. Anderson matched Johnson's three-pointer with one of his own 26 seconds later to make it 37-18.

Coastal Carolina posted six-unanswered points over the next 3:43, increasing its lead to 43-18 at 15:12. Liberty responded, going on a 14-3 run in the ensuing 4:35, with baskets from Gordon, Sanders Konan and Ohman to trim it to 14 at 10:37, 46-32.

The host team began to heat up again down the stretch, outscoring the Flames 17-5 to hold a 63-37 advantage with 5:42 left on the game clock. Coastal Carolina went on to earn the decision in the contest, 71-48.

Edwards and Ohman finished the contest as the leading scorers, posting 13, respectively. Three other Chanticleers ended the night in double scoring figures – Gray (12), Kierre Greenwood (12) and Harris (11).

Chanticleers took advantage of Liberty's miscues in the matchup, outscoring the Flames off turnovers, 18-2. Coastal Carolina also prevented the Flames from executing a fast break, while picking up eight points off quick transitions in the contest.

Coastal Carolina shot 41.0 percent (25-of-61) from the field in the game, while holding Liberty to 32.7 percent (18-of-55) at the opposite end.

Liberty falls to 14-15 on the season and 9-8 in the Big South with the defeat, while Coastal Carolina improves to 25-5 overall and 14-3 in conference playing, claiming the No.1 seed heading into the 2010 Advance Auto Parts Big South Basketball Championship. Liberty is now guaranteed to appear in the quarterfinals on the road as the fifth or sixth seed.

Liberty remains in the Palmetto State this Saturday, squaring off with Charleston Southern inside the CSU FieldHouse to conclude the regular season. The Flames opened conference play against the Buccaneers on Dec. 3, earning a 69-53 decision inside the Vines Center. Tipoff for the rematch is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Coastal Carolina stays in the Kimbel Arena on Saturday, hosting the VMI Keydets at 2 p.m.