Sunday, July 21, 2024

Men’s college basketball: Bulldogs fall in final seconds to Flames

by Russell Hedges
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By Kane McGuire, Louisiana Tech Associate Athletic Director/Strategic Communications

LYNCHBURG, Va. — For the second time this season Louisiana Tech and Liberty came down to the closing seconds. This time though, the Flames were able to connect on a game-winner, taking it 65-62 on Saturday night inside a sold-out Liberty Arena.

Sean Newman Jr. was able to tie the game up late on two separate occasions – once at 60-60 after two made free throws and at 62-62 with a driving layup. And just like back in Ruston almost a month ago, the Flames had a chance to win it in regulation and they did as Kade Metheny hit a three-pointer from about 26 feet with just two seconds left.

LA Tech (16-8, 6-3 CUSA) would turn the ball over and its attempt to tie it. It was their 19th turnover of the game, a stat that certainly hurt the Bulldogs chances of pulling off their fourth straight road victory.

Despite the turnovers, the Bulldogs were impressive in the first half when they outscored Liberty (16-9, 5-5 CUSA), 29-22. It was the second-fewest points scored in a single half by the Flames this season, shooting just 29.6 percent from the field and making just one of their 10 three-point attempts.

Tahlik Chavez, who made his return to the court after missing Wednesday’s game, made a jumper in the lane at the start of the second half to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the contest at 31-22.

Then Isaiah Crawford started to get hot, scoring 10 of LA Tech’s next 15 points, up 46-37 with 12:52 to play. Liberty started to get hot as well though, especially from beyond the arc. The Flames would make four of five three-point attempts, including one by Metheny to give the home team its first lead of the game at 55-52 with 5:03 to play.

Liberty built as much as a 5-point lead on two separate occasions, but a three-pointer by Crawford, and and-one by Daniel Batcho, and four straight points by Newman Jr. would tie things up before the Flames hit the game winner.

Crawford stuffed the stat sheet again with 19 points, four rebounds, a career-tying six steals, and three blocks. Batcho barely missed on another double-double with 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Chavez and Newman Jr. added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Metheny finished with a game-high 21 points followed by Kyle Rode with 18 and Brody Peebles with 16. 

Head coach Talvin Hester

On the loss …
“I thought our team fought really hard. We gave away a few possessions late where we missed a few assignments. To be deadlocked with eight seconds to go you like your chances, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Fatigue played a factor. We played some guys heavy minutes.”

On the first-half defense …
“We were locked in. The assignments were great. We did that for much of the second half too, but a good team like Liberty at home is going to get hot eventually. Ultimately, they got the look that beat us. We have to keep our heads high.”

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