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Points in the paint prove to be pivotal for Liberty in a blowout win, solidifying their place atop the standings
The Liberty University Lady Flames (11-7, 7-2 Big South) forced their will early against the Longwood Lancers (6-12, 3-6 Big South) to remain first in the Big South standings with a 74-41 win Thursday, Jan. 23.
Liberty opened the game on a 24-9 run, forcing four turnovers during the stretch. Although the Lady Flames held a size advantage in the post, they were also balanced in their scoring, hitting five three pointers from the perimeter in the first half.
“We recognized (the size advantage) from a scout, and we knew our strength was trying to capitalize on our height advantage,” Liberty Head Coach Carey Green said.
Unlike the Lady Flames, the Lancers were never able to effectively score. The Lancers struggled from the field, shooting only 24 percent in the
In the first 20 minutes, forward Ashley Rininger led the way for the Lady Flames with her presence in the paint. She went 3-10 in the half.
“My team has a lot of confidence in my ability to score, and they just consistently looked to give me the ball, which also helped to get open shots too,” Rininger said.
Rininger also had her way on the glass. The Lancers were unable to keep her from grabbing rebounds over smaller defenders for the entire half.
Despite having developed a big lead, the Lady Flames let up on the pressure and let the Lancers cut into the margin on a long-range shot.
But the Lady Flames held onto a 37-26 lead going into the locker room, behind seven points each from Rininger and guard Mickayla Sanders.
Coming out of halftime, Liberty opened up a 25-point margin by the 12:11 mark in the half.
Sanders erupted early in the second half with two three pointers and a three point-play that came the old-fashioned way. Her energy sparked the Lady Flames offense.
“Normally, when I am not very good the first half, I continue to not play well,” Sanders said. “I get down on myself, but I remembered our devotional speaker talking about attitude and how you can control your attitude. So I came out with a different fire and energy, and it paid off.”
The Lady Flames only allowed 15 points in the second half, keeping the Lancers scoreless for the final 3:49 of regulation. With a 68-41 lead, the bench added more points to the tally.
“I am really pleased with the contribution from the bench,” Green said. “They played actively, achieving and playing for a purpose instead of being in the game (just) for resting people”
The Lady Flames bench finished with 34 points. Guard Jaymee Fisher-Davis came off the bench and scored 11 of her 16 points in the second half.
Rebounding was also key in the Lady Flames victory, as they out-rebounded the Lancers 51-27 in the game. The margin led to 16 second-chance points.
Sanders finished with 16 points and five rebounds, while Rininger added nine points and eight rebounds.
The Lady Flames will be in action next as they host the High Point Panthers Thursday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.