LYNCHBURG, Va. – For the first time in the Liberty-North Florida series, a team has won back-to-back games as the Flames complete the sweep over North Florida, defeating the Ospreys 80-60. The Flames improve to 17-5 and 8-2 in the ASUN Conference while North Florida drops to 7-13 and 5-5 in conference.
Saturday’s game had a much different start compared to Friday’s night game as North Florida never held a lead in the first contest and on Saturday the Ospreys were able to grab its first lead less than 30 seconds into the game. Throughout the first half there were 19 lead changes and three ties as both teams were efficient on offense right out the gate. Darius McGhee caught fire, scoring 13 points in the first seven minutes of the game. After going back-and-forth throughout the half exchanging the lead, Liberty went on a 9-0 run to take a 39-30 lead. Liberty would go into the half with a 44-36 lead capped off by a buzzer beater by Darius McGhee, ending the half with 19 points.
Liberty’s offense started stagnant in the second half but midway got in a groove led by Chris Parker scoring eight points in the first six and a half minutes of the half. As Liberty held North Florida on a near four-minute scoring draught, Liberty extended its lead to 18 points (60-42) with 11:52 left in the game. North Florida was able to get back into the game, going on a 7-0 run late in the game to cut Liberty’s lead to 10 points (66-56) with six minutes left the in the game. Liberty countered with an 8-0 run to keeping its double-digit lead as North Florida went on a three-minute scoring draught to seal the win.
Key Stats & Notes
- Liberty extended its winning streak at home to 34 games, which is the second longest in the country.
- Darius McGhee led all scorers with 22 points.
- Kyle Rode posted 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
- Liberty shot 54 percent while limiting North Florida to 41 percent.
- Liberty’s bench outscored North Florida’s bench 19-9.
- Liberty recorded 16 assists, while holding UNF to eight assists.
- Liberty shot 47 percent from three-point range.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“I felt like we knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle because of how well-coach North Florida is and the kind of culture they have. They have a winning program and are expected to win so I felt good of how we responded after the way they started. Like most occasions with this team, you never know who is going to be the leading scorer of the night but our guys really shared the ball and play for one another and that is very rewarding as a coach to watch people play the game like that.”
Liberty will continue its homestand in the ASUN Conference next week as the Flames host North Alabama. The Liberty-North Alabama series begins on Friday, Feb. 19, at Liberty Arena at 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.