Radford tops Liberty in OT

liberty basketballTwo of the Big South’s best faced off Monday night as Liberty (12-7, 3-3) squared off against Radford (12-7, 5-1) as the two with the best overall records in conference. For the second straight year, the two found themselves in overtime at the Dedmon Center and the Highlanders flipped the script on the Flames from last year with a 59-57 win in overtime.

Radford looked like they were going to come away with the victory in regulation with a 52-49 lead with 12 seconds left in the game after a pair of free throws by Carlik Jones. After Liberty gained possession, Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz hit a three-pointer with four seconds left to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Radford had four players score and the Highlanders held a 59-57 lead after a made free throw by Donald Hicks, Liberty once again had a chance to tie the game or take the lead. With one second left on the clock, Pacheco-Ortiz attempted a three-pointer but missed short, giving Radford the win. The Highlanders now lead the conference with a 5-1 record.

Radford’s Ed Polite Jr. led all scorers with 18 points, shooting a perfect 7-7 from the field along with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Lovell Cabbil came close to a double-double with a team-high 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds along with two assists. Liberty out-rebounded Radford 37-32 but the Highlanders outscored the Flames 18-10 inside the paint. After shooting 31 percent in the first half, the Highlanders turned things around in the second half, shooting 54 percent and 50 percent from three-point range.

Pacheco-Ortiz kick started Liberty’s offense having a hand in the Flames’ first six points with four points and an assist. The Highlanders jumped out to an early 13-6 lead with 12:28 left in the opening half but Liberty’s defense locked down for the rest of the half. The Flames would outscore Radford 19-2 in the final 12 minutes to go into half with a 25-18 lead.

Cabbil would get Liberty’s offense into a rhythm filling the stat sheet in the first half scoring a game-high six points and six rebounds. Caleb Homesley came off the bench to score five points to go along with three rebounds and a steal. The Flames were able to control the glass, out-rebounding Radford 18-10 in the first half and as a result, Liberty did not allow any second chance points.

Liberty’s offense got off to a sluggish start scoring three points in the first five minutes of the second half as Radford tied the game (28-28) in the 15th minute. Radford would take the lead until 1:52 left in the game when Cabbil hit a three-pointer to take a one point lead (47-46). In the final two minutes of regulation Radford went 3-4 from the free throw line and converted on one three-pointer.

The Flames will continue their road trip this week on Thursday, Jan. 18, when they travel to face High Point. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Millis Athletic and Convocation Center.

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