Liberty (16-5, 7-1) picked up its first ever win over North Florida (8-12, 3-5) on their home floor on Saturday afternoon with a 73-62 win over the Ospreys.

“(Joseph Venzant) set an incredible tone for us in the second half defensively,” said Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay. “He sat down in his stance. I’m not sure when the last guard we had had 13 rebounds.”

The Flames took a 29-18 lead at the 5:55 mark of the first half, but the Ospreys would quickly get back into it with a 9-0 spurt over the next 2:51 to cut the lead to two. The home-standing UNF would then jump into the lead, maintaining a 37-35 advantage at intermission.

Liberty would utilize an 11-0 burst into the opening of the second half, thanks in part to two Kyle Rode three pointers. This would push the Flames into the lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the way. It marks the team’s first ever win over the Ospreys at UNF Arena.

Darius McGhee had 12 points but he was just 4 of 20 from the field. The rest of the team picked up his slack, led by Blake Preston and Shiloh Robinson who each had 17 points. Robinson had a double-double as he also grabbed 10 rebounds. Kyle Rode scored 14 points and Joseph Venzant had 13 rebounds while Colin Porter had a career-high 9 assists.

The Flames will return to action on Thursday night at Liberty Arena against Stetson. The Hatters are currently 11-8 on the season and 6-2 in ASUN play following their win over Jacksonville State on Saturday.

“I think our guys looked at this trip as an opportunity to keep getting better,” McKay said of the team’s wins this week in Jacksonville. “We’ve got the same opportunity next weekend with almost two-thirds of the season gone.”


On Thursday night at Jacksonville, Liberty freshman point guard Colin Porter struggled offensively as he missed all six of his field goal attempts. He didn’t let that carryover into the game Saturday, as Porter was effective and active from the opening tip.

The 5’9″ guard from Kentucky set a new career-high with 9 assists and only 1 turnover to go along with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. As the team leader, he helped orchestrated an offense that assisted on all of the team’s first 11 field goals.

“He brings a stability to our group on both ends,” McKay said of the freshman point guard. He doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for how sound he is defensively. His high school, he really did a great job in his preparation, those that have coached him, because he’s got a commitment on that end that is unlike most freshmen. I love him. I trust him. I think he’s got a chance to be one of the best ever in our program. To me, he’s as good as any point guard there is out there as a freshman.”


Liberty big men Blake Preston and Shiloh Robinson dominated the game on the interior. When they weren’t altering North Florida’s shots on one end of the floor, they were being very efficient for the Flames on offense, combining for 34 points and 15 rebounds.

Preston finished the game with 17 points on 8 of 11 shooting from the field. He also added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. Robinson added 17 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 6 of 7 from the field.

“I think Shiloh and Blake played with a great sense of confidence,” McKay said. “That always helps our cause especially given how physical they are down low and how good they are on the defensive end.”


Liberty was able to pick up a win on the road despite the unusual off night from star guard Darius McGhee. Darius finished with 12 points but made just 4 of his 20 field goal attempts and was 4 of 12 from three. The rest of the team shot 59% from the field in the game, with contributions coming from nearly everybody that got into the contest.

“Darius has got some Steph curry to him,” said McKay. “He’s got a green light. We’ve seen him make hundreds of tough shots so we allow him to do that. Some nights when you don’t have that, what gets lost is the gravity that he presents because of the way they are defending him. To his credit, I think he thought he was going to make them all. His presence on the court allows other guys some opportunities that may not be existent if he wasn’t out there. I was happy that our group played with a confidence and resolve that we felt like we could still run good offense even if Darius isn’t making his normal magic show.”