Liberty erases late deficit, defeats Jacksonville

Liberty rallied to defeat the Dolphins 59-54

Liberty University basketball (WSLS)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty found themselves in a battle in Game 1 of its weekend series at Jacksonville. Down nine points with seven minutes left in the game, Liberty rallied to defeat the Dolphins 59-54. Liberty improves to 13-5 and 5-2 in the ASUN Conference while Jacksonville falls to 9-8 and 3-4 in conference.

First Half

Liberty’s defense got off to a good start not allowing the Dolphins to score until the 15:53 mark. As the Dolphins started 0-5 from the field, the Flames jumped out to a 6-0 lead led By Kyle Rode scoring the first four points of the ball game. Both teams struggled on offense as the two each started the game 3-12 from the floor to start the game. Jacksonville (30 percent) outshot Liberty (27 percent) from the floor in the opening period but the two went into halftime tied at 22-22. Darius McGhee led the Flames with eight points in the first half while Tyreese Davis and Dontarius James each scored eight points for the Dolphins.

Second Half

Jacksonville would take the lead two minutes into the half and would increase its lead to seven points (37-30) with 11:35 left in the game. Liberty was down nine points (42-33) with seven minutes left in the game and Liberty countered throughout the half with a 13-0 run to retake the lead (43-42) with 4:41 left in the game. Liberty outscored Jacksonville 26-12 sparked by Chris Parker scoring 11 points along with two assists in the final seven minutes of the game.

Key Stats & Notes

  • This was Liberty’s first win of the season that was decided by five points or less.
  • Chris Parker scored 18 points, tying his season high.
  • Liberty held Jacksonville to 35 percent from the field.
  • Liberty outscored Jacksonville 24-18 inside the paint.
  • Darius McGhee moved to No. 34 on Liberty’s all-time scoring list with 842 career points, tied with Mark Reed.
  • Kyle Rode grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
  • Liberty out-rebounded Jacksonville 39-31.
  • Liberty grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, which led to 13 second chance points.

Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay

“I am happy that we got the win. I was a little concerned coming in, I thought that layoff would affect us a little bit. I thought the attention that has been paid to us not playing great on Friday would be a little bit of the elephant in the room and I knew them (Jacksonville) not having Kevion Nolan, like Stetson, gives guys more opportunity to shoot and play with freedom. Really fortunate to get the win.”

Up Next

Liberty will conclude this weekend series with Jacksonville on Saturday, Jan. 30, at Swisher Gymnasium. Tipoff against the Dolphins is set for 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.