Liberty’s women’s basketball team kicked off the Big South Conference Saturday, Dec. 1 when they took on Radford in the Highlander’s Dedmon Center for the 12th time in the last 13 years.
The Flames took the lead at the end of the game when Tolu Omotola put up a basket with 43.1 seconds left in the second half, ultimately leading to a 67-65 victory over the Highlanders. Liberty moved to 4-3 overall and 1-0 in the conference. Radford dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the Big South.
The Lady Flames were down by nine points at the end of the second half when they went on a late scoring rally that won the game. Liberty’s Devon Brown got nine of her game-high 28 points in the last 4:45 of the game.
Omotola’s late shot gave Liberty some much needed momentum, and teammate Jasmine Gardner helped put away the game with a free throw and two rebounds in the last 12 seconds. Radford’s Da’Naria Erwin Spencer put up a seasons best 21 points, but her buzzer beater attempt during the closing seconds of the game fell short.
The Flames won the tipoff to start the game and scored the first points six seconds later when Brittany Campbell hitting a layup. The Flames hit double digits at 11:57 in the first half when Brown had a fast break that she took down for a layup, making the score 18-8.
Radford went on an 11-0 run to take the lead for the first time of the afternoon. Their time on top was short lived, because Liberty reclaimed it just 20 seconds later. Radford went on another run, scoring 10-0 to take the lead back with 3:02 left in the first half.
With the score 31-25, the Flames made five straight free throws in 49 seconds and battled to regain control of the game. However, the Highlanders scored the last three points of the half, making the score 36-32 when the buzzer sounded.
Radford made 48.4 percent of its shots in the first half (15-31) compared to the Flames 29 percent (9-31). Liberty out-rebounded the Highlanders 24-15, and Radford converted the Flames 10 turnovers for 19 points.
After the half, the Flames held the Highlanders and only allowed one field goal during the first 4:20 of the second half. That defensive stand allowed the Flames to tie the score at 40 until Brown swished a three-point shot from the right wing at 15:56.
The Highlanders chalked up nine straight points to regain the lead, making the score 49-40 with 13:01 left. La-She’ Walker hit a layup and Gardner scored six straight points for Liberty, putting the Lady Flames within two (53-51).
Radford had the lead by six at 61-55 with 4:37 left in the second half when Brown went on a 7-1 scoring run, putting up a three-pointer that rolled around the rim and dropped in. That tied the score at 62-all with 1:59 left in the game.
The two teams traded a pair of layups, and then Erwin Spencer split a pair of free throws followed by Omotola’s key shot with 43.1 seconds left. She then blocked attempts by Avery, and Gardner rebounded Erwin Spencer’s shot.
Gardner made one of her two foul shots, and then Liberty caught Radford’s rebound as the buzzer sounded. Liberty played a scrappy game to come home with their 67-65 win, making this the sixth straight victory in the Dedmon Center for the Lady Flames.
Liberty will play another road game against the James Madison Dukes Tuesday Dec. 4. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in the JMU Convocation Center.