CONWAY, S.C. -- John Caleb Sanders had 27 points, Davon Marshall added 20 off six 3-pointers and Liberty defeated Charleston Southern 87-76 to win the Big South Conference tournament and reach the NCAA tournament with a 15-20 record.
The Flames opened the season 0-8 and reached 20 losses in their next-to-last regular season game. But Liberty got hot at the right time with a five-game winning streak, the last four at the conference tournament to gain their first NCAA trip since 2004.
Marshall and Sanders got things going in hurry over top-seeded Charleston Southern (19-12) with 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds -- and the Flames barely lost their outside touch. Marshall was 6 of 7 from beyond the arc and Liberty finished 9 of 18 on long-range baskets.
Liberty was last in the NCAA Tournament in 2004. The Flames (that's the school's nickname) beat Charleston Southern, the regular season champion, in the tournament finale. Liberty began the season 0-8 and finished 15-20.
But, winning five straight games, including the conference tournament, is sufficient for a ticket to go dancing.
In future news: Liberty is a 16-seed on Selection Sunday.