Home Liberty falls in OT at Louisiana Tech, 80-76; third straight loss for Flames

Liberty falls in OT at Louisiana Tech, 80-76; third straight loss for Flames

Chris Graham
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Louisiana Tech edged Liberty 80-76 in overtime in CUSA play on Sunday afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center.

Kyle Rode paced the Flames (11-7, 0-3 CUSA) with a team-high 20 points, his third 20-point game of the season, and added six rebounds.

Sophomore Zach Cleveland finished the game with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Kaden Metheny added 14 points and five boards.

The loss was the third straight and fourth in the last five games for Liberty, which led 68-63 with 3:09 remaining following a basket from Joseph Venzant.

The Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run and took a 69-68 lead following a putback from Danel Batcho with 1:41 remaining. The Flames’ Zach Cleveland split a pair of free throws with 46 seconds left to even the game at 69-all. On LA Tech’s next possession, Liberty’s Shiloh Robinson came up with a key steal with 20 seconds left to set the Flames up with a chance to win it in regulation. Cleveland’s fadeaway as time expired hit off the rim, sending the game to overtime.

Isaiah Crawford, the Bulldogs’ top scorer in the game (22 points), fouled out 49 seconds into overtime. It was Sean Newman Jr. who stepped up for the hosts in overtime, as the redshirt sophomore scored six points in the extra session. Newman Jr. put LA Tech ahead for good with a basket at the 3:08 mark for a 73-71 lead, and scored another basket on the next trip down to extend the lead to four.

After the Flames cut it to 75-74, Tahlik Chavez buried his third three of the game with a minute left on the clock to push the lead to 78-74. Liberty cut the lead to two, 78-76, with 39 seconds remaining on a Cleveland layup, but Newman Jr. made a pair of free throws to push the lead up to 80-76 and help seal the victory.

“I’m really proud of our guys. I think our fight was tremendous,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said. “A lot of people will be disappointed and will write us off. This is a group worth supporting. I love them. I love being at Liberty, too, because we get to remember that God is always doing something good.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].