LYNCHBURG, VA -- Jeremy Monceaux's jumper in the lane with eight seconds remaining gave the Flames the lead for good as second-seeded Liberty needed an extra five minutes of time to down seventh-seeded Coastal Carolina, Tuesday evening, in Game Three of the 2003 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Men's Basketball Championship at the Vines Center.
Coastal Carolina took control of the game midway through the first half of play as the Chanticleers held the Flames scoreless for six-straight minutes and took their largest lead at 13 points on a three-pointer by Kelvin Coggins with 3:30 left to play in the half. But Liberty trimmed the lead down to five points over the remainder of the period as the Chanticleers headed to the locker room with a 31-26 lead.
The Chanticleers continued to control the game and led by as much as eight points, 54-46, with 3:43 left to play in regulation, but the Flames held the Chanticleers scoreless over the remainder of the period while Gabe Martin's three-pointer with 53 second left tied the game at 54-54. Liberty had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Ryan Mantlo missed a jumper from the baseline, sending the game into overtime.
Both teams traded leads back and forth in the overtime as a jumper by Tony Darden with 39 seconds remaining tied the game for the third time in the extra period at 61-61. On the following possession, the Flames held on to the ball for as long as possible before Monceaux drove the lane and found nothing but net to seal the victory with eight ticks left on the clock.
Senior Vincent Okotie scored a season-high 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, while first-team all-conference selection Martin chipped in 12 points and six boards to lead the Flames. 2003 Big South Player of the Year Torrey Butler led the charge for the Chanticleers with 14 points, while Darden added 13 points and six rebounds.
With the victory, the second-seeded Flames (14-14) advance to the second semifinal game on Friday, March 7, where they will face sixth-seeded Radford, who upset third-seeded Charleston Southern by three points in Charleston, S.C., earlier in the evening. The loss brings Coastal Carolina's season to an end as the Chanticleers finish the year with a 13-15 record. The Big South is a NCAA Division I Conference with nine institutions in the Southeast. Birmingham-Southern College, Charleston Southern University, Coastal Carolina University, Elon University, High Point University, Liberty University, Radford University, UNC Asheville and Winthrop University comprise the 19-year-old League, which is based in Charlotte, N.C. The Big South Conference is online at www.BigSouthSports.com.