LYNCHBURG, Va. – Ethan Claycomb posted 16 points as Bellarmine narrowly defeated Liberty 53-50 in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament semifinals. Darius McGhee led the Flames on Saturday night with 21 points.
Bellarmine could not have asked for a better start, jumping out a 12-point lead (14-2) less than seven minutes into the game as the Knights started the game 5-10 from the field while Liberty shot 3-10. Liberty quickly responded going on a 12-0 run just over two minutes to tie the ball game at 14-14. Liberty used an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game (19-18) with 6:07 left in the half. Brody Peebles caught fire off the bench, scoring nine straight points adding to Liberty’s lead. Liberty would hold Bellarmine scoreless for the last eight minutes and 23 seconds of the half, to take a 26-18 lead at the break.
Bellarmine would come out of the break on a 13-5 run less than five minutes into the half to tie the game. From that point on Liberty and Bellarmine would go back-and-forth with seven lead changes as well as five times the game was tied throughout the second half. With one minute left, Liberty had a one-point lead and Bellarmine would retake the lead off a Dylan Penn layup with 42 seconds left and the Knights would never relinquish the lead.
“That was a tough one. Really thought Bellarmine played a heck of a game and deserved to win,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said. “I love this group. Our guys are unbelievable individuals, unbelievable workers, selfless in nature. I’m disappointed we don’t get to go back to the NCAA Tournament, but proud of our group and their effort tonight and this season.”