NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In its debut in the ASUN Conference Men's Basketball Championship, Liberty came away the conference title and automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a 74-68 victory against top-seeded Lipscomb. Led by ASUN Championship Most Valuable Player, Scottie James, the Flames went against a hostile crowd of 5,687 which set a facility record for attendance and marked the seventh-straight sell-out crowd for the conference final.
Lipscomb led for the majority of the first half, but Liberty end the opening stanza on a 9-0 run to hold the 29-28 advantage in Allen Arena. Lovell Cabbil's drive in the closing seconds moved the Flames ahead of the Bisons for the fifth-lead change in the first half. Kenny Cooper topped all scorers at the break with eight points as he added four rebounds. First Team All-Conference members, Scottie James & Caleb Homesley led the way for Liberty as James tallied seven points and Homesley pulled down six boards with three assists. Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz added six points for the Flames.
All-Freshman Team selection, Ahsan Asadullah contributed in a multitude of way with six points, seven rebounds including five on the offensive end to go along with two steals and a block. First Team All-Conference nod Rob Marberry tallied six points with two rebounds, while ASUN Player of the Year Garrison Mathews was held to four points on 1-of-5 shooting from the floor. Both teams struggled from the floor as defense was on display as the Bisons & Flames combined to shoot 3-of-20 from deep.
In total, the contest saw 23 lead changes in a back-and-forth affair as the game sat tied on six scorelines. Liberty outscored Lipscomb, 45-40, out of halftime aided by six three pointers on 11 attempts. The Bisons made 15-of-22 field goal attempts and 4-of-8 from deep but committed eight turnovers to only two for Liberty in the second half. Mathews finished with a game-high 21 points with 17 coming in the second half, while Marberry ended with 18 and 12 after the break. Four Flames players ended in double-figure scoring with James (17), Pacheco-Ortiz (16), Cabbil (14) and Homesley (11). Homesley added a game-high eight assists with only one turnover. Cooper registered 14 points for Lipscomb to go along with four assists.
2019 @ASUNMBB All-Tournament Team
- Scottie James, Liberty - Championship MVP
- Lovell Cabbil, Liberty
- Caleb Homesley, Liberty
- Garrison Mathews, Lipscomb
- Kenny Cooper, Lipscomb
- Garrett Sams, North Florida
- Diandre Wilson, NJIT
Liberty awaits the 2019 NCAA March Madness Selection Show, featuring the exclusive live first-time announcement of the pairings for the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, which will be televised on TBS – Sunday, March 17, at 6 PM ET. Lipscomb, a strong candidate for an at-large bid, will be tuned into next Sunday's show having already guaranteed themselves a spot in the NIT as the top seed in the conference tournament.
#1 Lipscomb vs. #2 Liberty - ASUN Final Notes
- The Lipscomb-Liberty showdown marked the 17th time in which the top-two seeds have met in the conference final with the No. 2 seed leading the series, 9-8.
- Liberty is the first team to win the ASUN Championship in their debut tournament since the 1997-98 season.
- The Flames tied the program's record for victories at 28, which was previously set by the 1980 squad which competed in the NCCAA.
- Garrison Mathews becomes the eighth player in conference history to be selected to the All-Tournament team on three occasions.
- The No. 2 seed has now won its last five appearances in the Championship Final, all of which have come against the No. 1 seed.
- Liberty enters the NCAA Tournament on a five-game winning streak and collected wins in 10 of the last 11 contests. The Flames sat 63rd in the NET rankings enter the final.
- Lipscomb concludes the ASUN Championship with a NET ranking of 42nd and a record of 25-7, which sits as their most wins since the 1999-00 season.
- With his 21 points, Mathews pushed his career point total to 2,350 which is third in ASUN history and is fifth-best among active NCAA D-I players.
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