LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For the first time in program history, the Liberty men’s basketball team has won a regular season championship outright as the Flames defeated Bellarmine, 94-78, Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall. Liberty ends the regular season as the No. 1 seed heading into next week’s ASUN with a 20-5 record overall and an 11-2 record in the ASUN. Liberty snaps Bellarmine’s 10-game winning streak as the Knights fall to 13-6 and 10-3 in the ASUN Conference.
Both teams were rolling on offense to start the game, as the Flames shot 62 percent and Bellarmine was shooting 57 percent by the first media timeout. Every player in Liberty’s starting five had scored within the first four minutes of the game. Liberty was lights out on offense, shooting 80 percent from the field in the first 10 minutes of the game, as the Flames jumped out to a 29-18 lead. Liberty got hot late to end the half, going on a 14-5 run to go into halftime with a 52-35 lead. Liberty shot 72 percent from the field and 66 percent from three-point range led by Darius McGhee scoring 13 points.
Darius McGhee picked up his offense even more in the second half, scoring 21 points in the final half.
Bellarmine was able to scratch and claw its way back late in the game, cutting Liberty’s lead to single-digits (83-74) with 2:17 left in the game. Liberty responded by ending the game on an 11-4 run to pull out the win. Liberty’s offense remained efficient in the second half shooting 51 percent from the field, making 14 field goals while recording 10 assists.
Key Stats & Notes
- Elijah Cuffee won his 101st career game at Liberty, which is tied for the second most wins in program history.
- Liberty extends its winning streak to nine games.
- For the fifth straight season, Liberty has posted a 20-win season.
- Liberty’s 94 points is the most Liberty has scored in an ASUN Conference game.
- Liberty recorded 23 assists, the most against ASUN opponent this season.
- Fifty-two points is the most Liberty has ever scored in a half against an ASUN opponent.
- Darius McGhee scored a career-high 34 points.
- McGhee recorded his fourth straight 20-point game and ninth of the season.
- McGhee made a career-high eight three-pointers.
- Shiloh Robinson scored a career-high 11 points.
- Liberty had five players score double-figures.
- Liberty shot 62 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“Needless to say that I am really proud of our group. I think that their ability to come on the road against a really good team and play consistent on both ends of the floor I thought was special. I am really proud that myself and this coaching staff get to be a part of these young men’s lives. They are special group, and we have great leadership in our athletic department and their commitment to making our program competitive is something we are thankful for.”
Liberty will enter the ASUN Championship as the No. 1 seed next week and will face the No. 8 seed, Kennesaw State on Thursday, March 4, at UNF Arena. The ASUN Quarterfinals can be seen on ESPN+ as tipoff is set for 2 p.m.