Flames Drop Nail Biter at North Florida
Liberty let go of a halftime lead for the second straight game, as the Flames fell to North Florida, 72-69, Tuesday night at UNF Arena. Liberty drops to 18-9 and 9-3 in the ASUN Conference while North Florida improves to 9-18 overall and 5-8 in conference.
For the second straight game, Darius McGhee got off to a hot start, scoring 14 of Liberty’s first 16 points of the game. The first 20 minutes of the game featured 10 lead changes and five ties but as the half progressed, Liberty’s defense was able to tighten up and hold North Florida to 38.5 percent from the field. Liberty would end the half on a 13-3 run over the final 5:33 of the half, to go into the break with a 38-33 lead. McGhee led all players in the first half with 19 points.
North Florida’s Jarius Hicklen got hot in the second half, scoring 22 points in the final half and North Florida was able to take its first lead in the second half (56-55) with 8:35 left in the game and extend its lead to as large as eight points (67-59) with 4:39 left in the game. The Flames had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but Shiloh Robinson’s would miss the game-tying attempt, giving UNF the victory. The Ospreys shot 56 percent in the second half from the floor and 53 percent from three-point range.
Key Stats & Notes
- Darius McGhee moved to No. 8 on Liberty’s all-time scoring list with 1,669 career points, passing Ed Vickers.
- McGhee ties the ASUN single season record for most three-pointers in a single season with 116 makes.
- McGhee recorded his 18th game this season scoring 20 points and 29th of his career.
- Liberty outscored North Florida 30-18 inside the paint.
- Kyle Rode filled the stat sheet with nine points, nine rebounds and five assists.
- North Florida shot 46 percent from the field while holding Liberty to 38 percent.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“I just told the guys that we are not a defensive-minded program when we allow people to do what they want on the offensive end, so we have to get back to that if we want to improve. Give a lot of credit to North Florida, that is their fifth win in their last seven and they are playing as well as anybody in the league.”
Liberty will return home to close out this week, as the Flames host Stetson on Saturday, Feb. 19. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.