David Minaya chipped in six points in Liberty's contest against league leader Coastal Carolina, Saturday night.
Playing for Big South supremacy, Saturday night's contest in the Vines Center between Liberty and Coastal turned into a nail biter. Despite being down 10 with 1:23 remaining, the Flames mounted a comeback in the closing seconds. Unfortunately the surge was not enough, as Coastal Carolina held on to take command of first place in the Big South, 70-67. Coastal moves to 14-2 on the season and 5-0 in conference play, continuing a 12-game win-streak. Liberty's five-game winning streak in conference play is halted with the defeat. The Flames are now 11-7 on the season and 5-1 in Big South action. Liberty lit up the scoreboard first thanks to back-to-back layups from John Brown and Evan Gordon, claiming an early lead. Coastal Carolina responded with four-straight points of their own off a made free throw from Mike Holmes and a Kierre Greenwood three-point basket to knot the contest, 4-4, at 17:26 After the Flames reclaimed the lead with a free throw from Brown, Gordon extended the bulge, hitting a trey off a dish from Jesse Sanders. Gordon's three-ball gave Liberty an 8-4 advantage at 15:42. Once again, the Chanticleers answered, posting four unanswered points off jumpers from Greenwood and Chad Gray to tie it at eight. Thirty seconds after Gray's basket, David Minaya nailed a three-point shot to put the Flames up, 11-8, at 14:17. Minaya's shot began a 7-1 run, which was capped off by a jumper from Brown, giving Liberty a 15-9 edge with 12:01 remaining in the half. Coastal countered by reeling off 10 straight tallies over the next three minutes to grab a 19-15 advantage. Following a Jesse Sanders jumper, Liberty tied the game at 19 courtesy of two made free throw from Joel Vander Pol at 8:16. Coastal Carolina distanced itself again over the ensuing 2:06, scoring five straight markers. Holmes tip-in a missed shot and a Dexter Moore trey put the Chanticleers ahead, 24-19, with 6:10 left in the period. Liberty fired back with a 5-0 spurt of its own. John Caleb Sanders tallied all five points during the burst with a two-point jumper and a trey to knot the contest once again, this time 24-24, at 3:30. After the Chanticleers posted another five straight tallies to take a 29-24 lead, John Caleb Sanders made it a one-possession game, knocking down another three-pointer with eight ticks left in the half. Coastal Carolina's Anthony Raffa sprinted down the court following the shot, laying it in just before the buzzer to give the Chanticleers a 31-27 lead at halftime. John Caleb Sanders eight points in the last five minutes of the half made him the contest's leading scorer at the close of the first period. Greenwood led the Chanticleers at halftime with seven. Brown was solid on the boards in the first 20 minutes, grabbing eight to go along with five points. Liberty shot 35.7 percent (10-of-28) in the first half, while Coastal Carolina went 12-of-36 for 33.3 percent from the field. In the second half, Jesse Sanders cut the Flames deficit to two with a pair of tallies at the charity stripe to open the scoring in the period. After Coastal Carolina regained a four-point advantage off a Holmes layup, Gordon sliced the margin to a single tally, draining a shot from behind the arc to make it 33-32 at 18:05. Following a made free throw by Greenwood, Gordon tied the contest, 34-34, with a jumper at 16:45. Twenty seconds later, Coastal Carolina's Sam McLaurin took back the lead with a layup. The Chanticleers maintained the advantage until 12:30, when John Caleb Sanders nailed his third trey of the contest to put Liberty ahead, 41-40. After Coastal reclaimed the lead briefly behind two Mike Holmes free throws, Gordon put Liberty up once again with a two-point jumper. The Chanticleers followed with a 7-0 spurt to grab a 49-43 advantage at 9:05. Gordon halted the run 22 seconds later, cutting the margin to three, and Brown added a tip-in at 7:31 to slice the visitor advantage to one-point at 49-48.
Coastal began to pull away down the stretch, outscoring the Flames 15-6 over the next 7:20 for a 64-54 lead with 1:23. However, the Flames refused to call it quits, chipping away at the bulge over the final 83 ticks with excellent clock management. Forced to foul, Liberty capitalized on several missed Chanticleer foul shots, with clutch three-point shooting. Down eight, Minaya put the Flames within five, hitting a trey with 23 seconds left to make it 66-61. After Holloway went one-for-two at the other end, Jesse Sanders cut it to three with a second three-point basket. Two more Holloway free throws put Coastal Carolina up by five, but John Caleb Sanders fired back with a third made three-pointer during the 14-second span, slicing Coastal Carolina' advantage to two points with nine seconds left at 69-67. After Greenwood went one-for-two at the charity stripe, Gordon looked to send it into overtime with one final shot as the clock ran out. However, the three-point attempt landed to the right of the rim, sealing a 70-67 decision for the Chanticleers. Gordon paced the Flames in the contest with 17 points, followed by John Caleb Sanders who finished with a career-high 16 points. Greenwood led the Chanticleers with 15 tallies. John Brown posted his eighth double-double, posting 13 points and 13 rebounds. Liberty went 25-for-58 (43.1 percent) from the field on the night, including 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from the three-point arc. Coastal concluded the contest shooting 41.3 percent (26-of-63). The Chanticleers return to Kimbel Arena on Thursday to host Winthrop. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The Flames hit the road, Thursday, to take on High Point. Tipoff in the Millis Center is slated for 7 p.m.