Forward Antwan Burrus hit a 40-foot shot as time expired to hand visiting Liberty a 75-74 victory over Charleston Southern and sending the Buccaneers to a third-consecutive Big South Conference loss on Thursday night at the CSU Fieldhouse.
The final shot capped a wild final five minutes that saw CSU rally from a nine-point deficit to take the lead in the final 30 seconds.
After freshman Paul Gombwer hit a pair of free throws to give CSU a 73-72 lead, senior Kelvin Martin added a free throw with 2.4 seconds left for a 74-72 lead. Liberty's Jesse Sanders rebounded the second attempt and the whistle blew with 1.1 seconds left on the game clock. After conferring, the officials reset the clock to 1.9 seconds.
Liberty's David Minaya heaved the inbounds pass just over midcourt. Burrus caught the ball, looked for someone to throw to and then heaved the desperation shot.
CSU fell to 14-10 overall and 8-6 in Big South play.
Sanders, one of the leading candidates for Big South player of the year honors, scored 19 points and had nine assists for the Flames (10-16, 5-9). Minaya added 20 points, scoring 17 in the second half.
Charleston Southern got a season-high 17 points from sophomore guard Sheldon Strickland. Martin added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Gombwer had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Saah Nimley scored 14 points.
"I have to commend our kids for playing so hard and really fighting to get back into the game in those last five minutes," said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. "We made some mistakes tonight, some crucial mistakes, but we hung in there all night. It's a tough loss. This will test our character for sure."
CSU led, 34-32, at the half, but the Flames reeled off a 14-2 run, including six straight by Minaya, to take a 46-41 lead with 14:10 left in the game.
Strickland entered the game off the bench with back-to-back 3-pointers and Gombwer added a putback to tie the game at 52 with 11:40 to play.
Liberty, which made 11 of its first 14 shots from the field in the first 10 minutes of the half, scored four straight to go up, 56-52, and Sanders hit a long 3 and a layup for a 61-55 lead with 8:22 remaining.
Minaya scored five straight points to give Liberty its largest lead at 68-59 with 5:30 left before CSU got a pair of 3s from Nimley and a layup from Martin to cut the margin to 68-67 with 3:20 to play.
Strickland's steal and layup with 2:02 remaining gave the Bucs a 71-70 lead but Sanders hit two free throws with 1:04 left to put Liberty back up, 72-71.
CSU will host High Point on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.