Home Liberty gets first C-USA win, holding off Florida International, 78-69

Liberty gets first C-USA win, holding off Florida International, 78-69

Chris Graham
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Liberty snapped its three-game losing streak with a 78-69 win over Florida International on Thursday, notching the program’s first-ever C-USA win in the process.

Kyle Rode led four Liberty players in double figures with 19 points and added eight rebounds and five assists. Guard Kaden Metheny knocked down six threes for 18 points and chipped in six assists. Brody Peebles finished with 12 points, and Zach Cleveland tallied 11 points, nine boards and six assists.

Liberty (12-7, 1-3 C-USA) led 36-29 at halftime before Metheny knocked down a trio of three-pointers in a short span early in the second half. Metheny’s third triple in that sequence, his sixth of the night, pushed the Flames’ lead to 45-36 with 16:42 left.

FIU (7-12, 2-2 C-USA) hung in the game throughout, slicing a 59-49 deficit down to just four points, 59-55, at the 6:54 mark following a dunk from Seth Pinkney. Liberty responded on its next possessions to regain a double-digit lead. Colin Porter knocked down a three from the corner, followed by a three-point play from Zach Cleveland at the 5:59 mark.

Just over a minute later (4:51 mark), Brody Peebles buried a triple from the other corner to push the home lead to 13, 68-55.

The Panthers clawed to within eight, 73-65, with 1:29 left, but the Flames once again had an answer as Kyle Rode knocked down his fifth and final three of the night with 57.5 seconds left to push the lead to 11.

“I have a lot of respect for FIU,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said. “They have a very unique system. It’s not easy to simulate the length, athleticism and determination that they play with in attempt to turn you over and speed you up. I thought our group was really disciplined in trying to take care of the basketball and get a great shot.”

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].