Home Liberty forces OT, but New Mexico State battles past Flames in 79-73 win

Liberty forces OT, but New Mexico State battles past Flames in 79-73 win

Chris Graham
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Liberty battled New Mexico State into overtime, but the Flames ran out of gas in the extra session in a 79-73 loss on Thursday.

Zach Cleveland matched a career high for Liberty (13-9, 2-5 C-USA) with 23 points and added eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. Kaden Metheny added 16 points for the visitors, and Brody Peebles scored 13.

Christian Cook poured in a game-best 27 points for the Aggies (10-12, 4-3 C-USA).

A back-and-forth closing two-and-a-half minutes of regulation sent the game to overtime. In the closing stages of regulation, Liberty took a one-point lead, 67-66, on a three-point play from Cleveland at the 1:39 mark. The Aggies regained the lead, 69-67, with 26 ticks left on a Christian Cook three-pointer. On the next possession, Brody Peebles’ layup tied the game at 69-all with 12.7 seconds remaining.

The Flames’ defense came up with a stop on the final possession of regulation to force overtime.

In the overtime session, the Flames were 2-of-9 from the field and 0-of-4 from the three-point line while committing a pair of turnovers in the five-minute session. Meanwhile, the Aggies were 3-of-6 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the foul line.

New Mexico State closed the game on a 6-0 run over the final 2:35. Jaden Harris’ jumper provided a 75-73 lead and put the home side ahead for good. Cook’s jumper with 26 seconds remaining made it 77-73, and Harris helped secure the victory with a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to go.

“I was proud of our group for the way they responded. We ran out of gas,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said.

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].