Liberty has clinched a sport in the NCAA Tournament despite the fact that the team currently sports a 15-20 record. The school managed to make the postseason despite the poor record thanks to a Cinderella run through the Big South Conference tournament culminating in an 87-76 win over Charleston Southern.
The Liberty Flames seems to have gotten hot at just the right time of the season as the team has won its last five games. Those five victories included a one-point win over Big South regular season champion High Point in the conference tournament’s opening round.
Despite the fact that the school had not won three in a row all season before this hot streak, the Flames have become the second team to clinch a berth in the NCAA tournament. They join Florida Gulf Coast who punched their ticket yesterday.
Liberty was as close to a lock as any team in the country to miss the NCAA tournament before their little run. Instead the Flames will journey to the “Big Dance” for the first time since 2004.
The school joins Coppin State as being the only two universities in the history of the NCAA to make the tournament with 20 losses. Their winning percentage (.429) is the lowest since Oakland made the tournament with a 12-18 record (.400).
Head coach Dale Laney didn’t seem to care that his team was making history for all the wrong reasons. When the statistics were presented to him he simply said, ‘That’s awesome, we’ve got the hats, right?”
As has been the case most of the season, the Flames were led by Davon Marshall, John Caleb Sanders and Taveres Speaks. Sanders scored 27 points while hauling down seven rebounds and dishing out four assists.
Speaks had 18 points and nine rebounds to go with four assists and Marshall scored 20 points thanks to going 6 for 7 from beyond the three-point arc.
Does Liberty have a chance to score some upsets in this year’s NCAA tournament?