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Men’s basketball team headed to NCAA Tournament as ASUN champions

The Liberty University men’s basketball team closed out the ASUN Championship final to upend top-seeded, defending champion Lipscomb University, 74-68, Sunday afternoon on its home court at Allen Arena in Nashville.

After finishing tied at first place in the Flames’ first season in the ASUN conference, the Flames (28-6, 14-2 ASUN) clinched an autobid to the NCAA Division I National Championships for the fourth time in program history and first since 2013. The Flames will find out their seeding for the 68-team tournament and first-round opponent on March 17, NCAA Selection Sunday. (The selection show will take place at 7 p.m. EST and can be viewed on CBS.)

Liberty is the first league team to win the ASUN Final in its debut tournament since the 1997-98 season. The Flames now have tied their school record with 28 wins on the season.

In a game that featured 23 lead changes, junior forward Scottie James, the tournament MVP, lifted Liberty to a 67-66 advantage that it would not relinquish with a layup assisted by senior guard Lovell Cabbil Jr. with 56 seconds remaining in regulation. Cabbil (14 points) also assisted a 3-pointer by junior guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz (16 points) with 17 seconds to go. James (17 points, 8 rebounds) and junior guard Caleb Homesley (11 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) sealed the victory at the foul line, where the Flames finished 11-for-12.

Cabbil, Homesley, and James were named to the ASUN All-Tournament team.

“The quality of our opponent today necessitated our best,” said Liberty Head Coach Ritchie McKay. “I knew they were going to do some things offensively and defensively that create some small incisions, but I was so proud of how our guys weathered the storm. I think that this was a game where you needed a break or two down the stretch and we were fortunate enough to get one.”

Visit the Liberty Athletics website for a full recap of the Flames’ championship win.

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