Liberty Drops Overtime Thriller to FGCU
Liberty played its first ever overtime game at Liberty Arena and FGCU was able to come out on top, defeating Liberty 82-72, Wednesday night. Liberty drops to 20-10 overall and 11-4 in the ASUN Conference while FGCU improves to 19-10 and 9-6 in conference.
It was a slow start on offense for Liberty, scoring nine points in the first nine minutes of the game, shooting 4-13 from the field. The Flames’ slow start allowed FGCU to jump out to a nine-point lead (20-11) with 8:07 left in the first half. In the final seven and a half minutes of the half Liberty would go on a 20-9 run to take a 31-29 lead at the break. Kyle Rode led all scorers in the first half with 11 points with a trio of makes from three-point range.
After being inserted in the lineup to begin the second half, Blake Preston carried the Flames’ offense, scoring six of Liberty’s first eight points to begin the half. Tavian Dunn-Martin caught fire in the second half, scoring 32 of his 43 points in the second half. FGCU would take its first lead of the second half with 3:37 left in the game off a Dunn-Martin three-pointer. From that point on, Liberty and FGCU would go back-and-forth exchanging the lead and with four seconds left in regulation Liberty had a chance to win it but Darius McGhee’s three-point attempt would fall short, sending the game into overtime.
Austin Richie came up huge for FGCU, scoring six of the Eagles’ 16 points in overtime while holding the Flames to 25 percent from the field to come away with the victory.
Key Stats & Notes
- Liberty played in its first overtime game since Feb. 15, 2018 (at UNC Asheville).
- Darius McGhee moved up to No. 6 on Liberty’s all-time scoring list with 1,770 career points, passing Anthony Smith.
- McGhee posted his second career double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
- Blake Preston recorded his second double-double of the season with a career-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
- Liberty’s bench outscored FGCU’s bench 24-8.
- FGCU’s Tavian Dunn-Martin scored a Liberty Arena record 43 points.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“Really hard-fought game tonight. Hats off to Florida Gulf Coast, they got a big win at our place. That is college basketball, sometimes it doesn’t go your way but I love our guys and they spent everything they had. They (FGCU) tried to wear Darius (McGhee) down and did a decent job of that so I am anxious to get a little bit of rest and finish up on Senior Night and see if we can’t defend our championship in the ASUN Tournament.”
Liberty will play its final game of the regular season when the Flames face Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.