Liberty (19-5, 10-2) closed out its first season at Liberty Arena with a 74-54 win over North Alabama (10-10, 6-8) on Tuesday afternoon, an identical score from Monday’s game between the two ASUN opponents. With the win, the Flames move into a first place tie with Bellarmine in the ASUN at 10-2.
Liberty finished the season 13-0 in the new facility and have now won 36 straight home games overall. The Flames have finished unbeaten at home each of the past two seasons with the last home loss coming January 29, 2019 against Lipscomb. Liberty is 46-1 at home over the past three seasons and 25-1 in ASUN games.
“To have another season where we went unbeaten at home is really a blessing, especially in a year like we had with COVID and all the restrictions and the testing, just a resilient group,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said of his team following the win.
After setting a career high with 29 points on Monday, Darius McGhee follwed that up with 24 points while making 7 of 13 from the field and 6 of 11 from three. He moved past Kyle Ohman for sixth on Liberty’s career three point field goals made with 205. McGhee is just two made three-pointers behind Matt Hildebrand for 5th on the list. Ryan Kemrite is the record holder with 258 made threes during his career.
For the two games against UNA, McGhee scored 53 points while shooting 18 of 32 from the field and 13 of 23 from three-point range. Over the past three games, McGhee is averaging 25 points per game while shooting 19 of 34 (55.9%) from 3. He’s made at least six three point field goals each of the past three games. In his first 91 career games, McGhee had just two games where he made at least six threes, doing so his freshman season at Florida Gulf Coast in Liberty’s first ever ASUN conference game and also earlier this season against Mississippi State when he made seven.
The Flames controlled the game throughout, but the Lions wouldn’t go down without a fight. Liberty would close the first half on a 14-3 run to create separation, but, much like Monday’s game, North Alabama remained feisty throughout the second half despite trailing by double figures.
“I thought our guys had a consistency that warranted a chance to win tonight,” said McKay. “I thought we were hard to play against defensively on most occasions. I think it’s hard to go back to back like that. In a short week, I was trying to manage some minutes.”
Kyle Rode continues his solid play in recent games as he was second on the team with 13 points to go along with 6 rebounds. He made 5 of 10 field goals and was 2 of 7 from three. Keegan McDowell rounded out the double figure scorers with 11 points as he made 3 of 5 from three to go along with 3 rebounds. Drake Dobbs chipped in 8 points and 3 assists.
Shiloh Robinson doesn’t always make a huge impact on the offensive end of the floor, but he made a huge impact Tuesday in other areas. He finished with just 2 points but also had 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
“He’s a really good defender,” McKay said of Shiloh. “He’s a selfless individual, probably could score more if we needed him to do that. I think his future is really bright. We have such a group of unselfish guys that I think a few of them are invisible. I do think other guys are contributing in a really significant way.”
Liberty will now turn its attention to Bellarmine as the Flames and Knights prepare for a single game this coming Saturday at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. Liberty and Bellarmine are tied for first place atop the ASUN standings at 10-2. The Flames are currently riding an 8 game win streak while the Knights have won 10 straight. Saturday’s game, televised on ESPNU at noon, will determine the ASUN regular season title and the 1-seed in next week’s ASUN Tournament.