The Liberty Flames have been to the NCAA tournament just once since 2005, and the team’s deep desire to go dancing again was clear on Sunday.
In the closing minutes of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament final against the Lipscomb Bisons, junior forward Scottie James executed one of the most blatant flops of the college basketball season.
James had just pulled down an offensive rebound and put it in to retake the lead when the shot took him to the floor. As he got up and senior forward Rob Marberry ran past him, James played it off like he had been clocked in the chin and flailed back to the ground.
Liberty guy out here with the worst acting I've seen since Weekend at Bernie's II. Credit to the refs for not falling for it pic.twitter.com/t84MUKPmnf
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) March 10, 2019
The referees quickly blew the play dead but fortunately did not reward Liberty with free throws — since they were already in the bonus — after a video review. However, the Flames did cruise to victory with James earning himself some much-needed redemption.
After Lipscomb's Garrison Mathews hit a pair of free throws to retake the lead, James put the Flames back on top with another layup with 57 seconds left. He later added a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to four with eight seconds left that effectively iced the game.
Overall, Liberty outscored Lipscomb 9-4 in total after the flop.
With the upset of No. 1 seed Bisons, Liberty will go to its fourth NCAA Tournament since the school joined Division I in the 1988-89 season. A school-record 28 wins — and more than half as many losses as its previous low — could also give Liberty a chance to be better than a 16 seed for the first time. The Flames currently rank as the 63rd-best team in the nation, according to kenpom.com.
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