Liberty wins 2013 Big South basketball tournament: Flames lock up automatic bid

USA TODAY Sports

The Liberty Flames completed their upset-filled run through the Big South Tournament, knocking off top-seed Charleston Southern in the championship.

The Liberty Flames became the fourth team to earn a bid in the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, upsetting Charleston Southern, 87-76. Liberty won four straight games as an underdog to earn the Big South's automatic bid.

The Flames made a run midway through the second half and built a comfortable lead they would not relinquish. After taking a 35-34 halftime lead, Liberty and Charleston Southern stayed close until the Flames went on a run with about 13 minutes left in the game. The Flames went on a 20-10 run to build a 70-57 lead with 4:41 remaining and held on to earn their third NCAA Tournament bid.

John Caleb Sanders led the way for Liberty with 27 points and added seven rebounds and four assists. Davon Marshall and Tavares Speaks added 20 and 18 respectively.

The Flames made an exciting run through the Big South Tournament, defeating Coastal Carolina 78-61 in the first round, knocking off the No. 1 seed in the North, High Point, 61-60 in the quarterfinals, and defeating Gardner-Webb 65-62 in the semis.

With a 15-20 record, Liberty will be a 16 seed and almost certainly find itself playing in the First Four as one of the bottom overall seeds in the tournament. The Flames have made the NCAA Tournament twice before, losing to UNC in 1994 and St. Joseph's in 2004.

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