LYNCHBURG, Va. - No. 2 Liberty earned a spot in the ASUN Championship Final with a 71-63 victory against No. 3 North Florida in the Vines Center on Thursday night. With the victory, Liberty extended its Division I record for single-season victories to 27 as the Flames enter the conference finale on a four-game win streak.
Liberty took a 35-30 advantage into halftime thanks to 12 points from First Team All-Conference selection Scottie James as he added five rebounds and two assists. Elijah Cuffee & Lovell Cabbil chipped in seven each, while fellow First Team member Caleb Homesley scored five with four boards. North Florida's Carter Hendricksen & ASUN Defensive Player of the Year Wajid Aminu shouldered the scoring load with nine and eight points, respectively. Garrett Sams knocked down two triples as UNF shot 6-of-14 from deep in the opening half with Hendricksen finishing 3-of-4 on three's.
The Flames led for the entirety of the second half and extended its advantage to as much as eight on several occasions. Liberty's defense pestered North Florida throughout the contest as UNF committed 16 turnovers; the highest for the Ospreys since Jan. 30th. Ritchie McKay's squad dominated the paint by holding the 40-16 advantage on UNF. James finished with 24 points on 9-of-16 from the floor with nine rebounds, while Homesley tallied 13 points of his own with seven boards. As a team, Liberty shot 50.9 percent from the floor finishing 28 of 55 despite connecting on only five three pointers.
Sams finished with a team-high 22 points on 6-of-11 from behind the arc to push his career point total to 1,110, which ranks 145th-most in league history as his junior season wrapped up. Aminu added a final tally of 14 points, six rebounds and a block as he totaled a league-best 68 swatted shots; tied for 16th-most for a single-season in ASUN history. Hendricksen was the third Osprey in double-figure scoring as the freshman ended with 11 on the night with three trifectas made. Ivan Gandia-Rosa wrapped up with six assists to push his league-leading season total to 192; the 18th-most all-time in a conference single season.
Liberty and Lipsccomb square off in the ASUN Championship Final, which takes place on Sunday, Mar. 10th at 3 PM ET on ESPN. The contest will also be aired on national radio via Westwood One Sports in a rematch of the two Regular Season Champions.
No. 2 Liberty vs. No. 3 North Florida - ASUN Semifinal Notes
- With a win on Sunday, Liberty will become the first team in the ASUN to win the conference title in their tournament debut since the 1997-98 season.
- The No. 2 seed is a perfect 4-0 in its last four appearances in the ASUN Championship dating back to 2009. Lipscomb won last year as the No. 2 seed.
- North Florida's season ends with a 16-17 record as the Ospreys registered a 9-7 mark in league play.
- Sams produced his third 20-point game in his last four outings, while his six threes made tied his season-high set on Feb. 23rd vs. Liberty.
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