Feb 23, 2010

Lady Flames improve to 19-5 with win over Coastal

by Chris McNair

Coming off a tough loss to Gardner-Webb, which placed them second in the Big South, the Lady Flames bounced back Monday evening against the Winthrop Eagles in dominating fashion, dismantling them on their home floor, 52-18, handing Winthrop its third loss at the Winthrop Coliseum this season.

Liberty held its opponent to a record low 18 points, also setting the record for lowest field goal percentage allowed. The Lady Flames held Winthrop to just five made field goals and a dismal 11.9 percent (5-of-42) from the field on the night.

It was also a career night for sophomore Avery Warley. She became the 50th player in program history to score 500 career points.

For Winthrop, the game was basically a series of scoring droughts. The Eagles went the first six minutes without a point, and a second drought came not long after the first. After scoring its first points of the night at 14:06, it was not until the 7:48 mark that the Eagles scored another two points, both on free-throws.
A Dymond Morgan triple capped a 9-0 Liberty surge after the free throws, extending the Flames lead to 19-2.

Winthrop had just six points with less than four minutes left in the half until two Jessica Fansler free throws cut the deficit to 19-8 with 3:59 left to go in the half.

Liberty’s defene held Winthrop to 10 points at halftime, helping them to a 23-10 lead. This game marked the second time Liberty held its opponent to only 10 points in the first half. Liberty also held Presbyterian College to 10 points before the break last month at the Vines Center.

Sophomore Danika Dale performed well for the Lady Flames, scoring 11 points and pulling down five rebounds off the bench. Dale led all scorers in the first half, scoring six points in 12 minutes of play. Warley and freshman Devon Brown chipped in with four apiece.

The second half was not much different from the first for both teams. Liberty came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the first eight points of the half, six of which were put in by Brown. After a Kathi Ryska three-point play, which cut the deficit to 31-13, Winthrop would go on to do virtually nothing for the remainder of the contest. They connected on just one field goal in the final 15:27.

Liberty did not shoot the ball exceptionally well, but its points in the paint made up for the poor percentage. Thirty of its 52 points were scored in the paint.

Dale is not known for being a post player, but her determination to get to the basket is what makes her strong in that regard.

“I know I’m not the strongest post player out there, but I just try to get to the rim,” she said. “It was just an amazing game. I’ve never been in a game like that before.”

Lady Flames Head Coach Carey Green was impressed with his team’s defensive effort.

“We came out with a lot of intensity. Everyone rebounded for us tonight and everyone scored. It was a good defensive effort all night. We forced a lot of contested shots, but Winthrop did not shoot the ball very well either. I’m pleased with how we bounced back from our loss to Gardner-Webb,” Green said.

After clobbering Winthrop on Monday, the Lady Flames returned home to face Coastal Carolina for the 50th time in front of a season-high crowd of 3,387, Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center, which marks the ninth-largest women’s basketball attendance in the arena’s history.

The Chanticleers made a crucial run at the end of the game, but came up short, losing by two in their seventh consecutive road loss, 57-55. It was also Coastal’s 33rd consecutive loss to the Lady Flames.

A late 11-2 run put the Chanticleers in perfect position to win, but Liberty’s defense, as has been the case all season long, did enough to pull out the victory. The final shot, an off balance jumper taken by Elizabeth Weaver, fell well short due to swarming defensive pressure by Liberty.

With this win the Lady Flames improve to 19-5 overall and 9-2 in conference play, while Coastal dropped to 14-10 overall and 5-7 against Big South opponents.

Liberty got off to a fast start, scoring the game’s first four points within 35 seconds. Coastal responded with a 14-4 run of its own, which included three triples. A three-pointer from Amanda Stull put Coastal up 14-10 at the 13:23 mark. Stull and teammate Sydnei Moss led all scorers with 19 points each.

Stull was difficult to contain, connecting on 5-of-8 triples on the night, but Liberty’s guards knew coming in that her shot would be deadly.

“We were doing some good things, but from a defensive perspective I think we allowed them to come back on us by not picking up their best shooter,” Green said. “I think we lost a lot of focus on the defensive end.”

Devon Brown reached double digits with a team-high 14 points. This game marks the 13th consecutive time Brown has scored in double digits.

Contact Chris McNair
at cjmcnair@liberty.edu.

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