BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — Liam O’Reilly scored 22 of his career-high 27 points in the second half and Gardner-Webb defeated Liberty 58-55 in a Big South opener Saturday.
Consecutive 3-pointers by O’Reilly snapped a tie and gave the Runnin’ Bulldogs (6-8) a 51-45 lead with 4½ minutes remaining. Four straight free throws got the Flames (9-5) within two with 1:19 left but O’Reilly hit another 3-pointer and that was enough despite a basket by Caleb Homesley before Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz airballed a well-defended 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Liberty led 25-22 at halftime, holding Gardner-Webb to its fewest points in a half this season.
O’Reilly finished with seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts and had a team-high eight rebounds to help Gardner-Webb end a four-game losing streak to the Flames.
Scottie James led Liberty with 11 points and 13 rebounds.