LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty survived a scare in the ASUN Championship Quarterfinals, Tuesday night at the Vines Center as the Flames pulled out the 55-49 victory over the No. 8 seed, NJIT. Liberty advances to the ASUN Championship Semifinals where they will host Stetson on Thursday, March 5. Tickets can be purchased here.
Liberty’s defense forced NJIT to struggle on offense to start the game, as the Highlanders did not make a field goal until the 13:54-mark. NJIT started the game 1-10 from the field while the Flames went 5-10 from the field. Liberty would cool off on offense to end the half, shooting 33 percent (8-24) but the defense was able to keep NJIT to 16 points, as the Highlanders shot 25 percent (7-28) as Liberty went into the break with a lead.
After shooting below 30 percent in the first half, NJIT shot better in the second half, jumping to 40 percent from the field to stay within reaching distance of the Flames. Late in the game, Liberty struggled as they did not make a field goal for five and a half minutes, which led to NJIT cutting Liberty’s lead to 48-42 with 1:46 left in the game. Liberty was able to convert 12-19 free throws in the second half to come away with the victory.
Key Stats & Notes
- Liberty extends its school-record home winning streak to 21 games and improved to 15-0 this season at home.
- Scottie James posted his seventh double-double of the season and 28th of his career, which is the third most in school history.
- James moved into sole possession of No. 4 on Liberty’s all-time rebounding list with 880 career rebounds.
- Liberty held NJIT to 32.7 percent (18-55) from the field.
- Liberty had three players score double figures led by Caleb Homesley’s 14 points.
- Liberty held NJIT to 16 points in the first half, the 12th time Liberty has held an opponent to under 20 points in a half this season.
- In the six halves Liberty played NJIT in this season, the Flames held NJIT to 20 points or fewer in four of those halves.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
"I am obviously happy to get a win. I think there is a lot of pressure on the No. 1 seed typically and even though we did a good job defensively, I thought we played with a little bit of nervousness on the offensive end. We got good looks, they just didn’t go down and it was an uncharacteristic shooting night on our end but credit goes to NJIT. Our defense allowed us to play in front and I thought that was really important.”
Liberty will now face Stetson in the ASUN Championship Semifinals on Thursday, March 5, at the Vines Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.