After going 0-8 to start the season, Liberty is going to the Big Dance.
Junior guards John Caleb Sanders and Davon Marshall combined for 47 points, helping fifth-seeded Liberty upset No. 1 Charleston Southern 87-76 in the Big South Conference final Sunday at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C., to gain an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Sanders scored 27 points and Marshall added 20 for Liberty (15-20), which became the second team to make the NCAA Tournament with 20 losses.
Sophomore guard Saah Nimley scored 17 points for Charleston Southern (19-12).
Liberty maintained a slim lead through much of the first half. Charleston Southern went up by one on a free throw from Sheldon Strickland with 12 seconds left, but Tavares Speaks made a jumper with one second to go, giving the Flames a 35-34 lead at the break.
The game remained close until midway through the second half, when Liberty mounted 8-1 and 8-0 runs to take a 68-54 lead with 5:33 remaining.
The Flames lost their first eight games this season but have won five in a row and six of seven, including four wins in the Big South tournament.