Feb 16, 2010

Lady Flames fall to Gardner-Webb as Bulldogs capture first place

by Chris McNair

In a battle for Big South supremacy, the Lady Flames basketball team took on Big South co-leader Gardner-Webb last Monday night at the Vines Center. Late game heroics from Gardner-Webb junior Dominique Hudson gave the Bulldogs a thrilling come-from-behind victory, 59-56, snapping Liberty’s 10-game winning streak in the process.

Things got off to a dismal start early for the Lady Flames. The Bulldogs swarming defense caused a number of shot clock violations, many of which led to Gardner-Webb baskets.

Three-point shooting was the difference-maker for Gardner-Webb. Epps connected on 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, one of which gave the Bulldogs a 25-19 advantage at the 5:04 mark. Those were the last points Gardner-Webb would put on the board in the first half, as Liberty ended the half with an 8-0 run paced by a Brown tip-in with 49 seconds remaining, giving the Flames a two-point lead going into halftime, 27-25.

Gardner-Webb shot considerably better in the first half, connecting on 47.8 percent (11-of-23) of its shots from the field, while the Lady Flames shot just 38.5 percent (10-of-26). Liberty did have the edge from the line, though, connecting on 85.7 percent (6-of-7) from the charity stripe.

A ferocious Warley block sent the Vines Center into a roar of applause and ovation, giving the Lady Flames a huge boost of momentum going into the half.

“My focus was just defensive momentum and just to pick our defense up,” Warley said.

The Lady Flames came out in the second half firing on all cylinders. They opened up in the half with six unanswered buckets, extending their lead to 33-25 with a Rachel McLeod layup. The basket capped off a 14-0 run during a 7:37 scoreless drought by the Bulldogs.

A 9-0 run by the Bulldogs ensued, followed by an immediate 13-3 surge by Liberty. Sophomore Danika Dale accounted for six points in the surge with a momentum-boosting three-point play and a three-pointer from the left wing. Just like Warley’s block before halftime, Dale’s outburst sent the crowd into pandemonium.

“LU can step it up, too. I mean, we’re a strong team,” Dale said.
The Lady Flames maintained the lead all the way down to the final seconds, until a deadly Hudson triple put the Bulldogs ahead, 57-56, with only 19 seconds remaining in regulation. After failing to score on the next possession, Liberty then had no choice but to foul, sending senior Margaret Roundtree to the line with seven seconds on the clock. Roundtree knocked down both free throws, extending the lead to three, which would prove to be the final score, 59-56. “It does come down to execution both defensively and offensively,” Lady Flames head coach Carey Green said. “We didn’t execute some at the end of the game. We got some shots and they didn’t fall. They made shots.”

The loss brought the Lady Flames record to 17-5 overall and 7-2 in conference play. Gardner-Webb improves to 19-3 overall and 8-1 in the Big South, making them number one in the standings.

Liberty redshirt sophomore Avery Warley recorded a double-double, leading all scorers with 15 points, and pulling down 10 rebounds. Also recording a double-double for the Lady Flames was Devon Brown, who tallied 13 points and 13 boards.

Hudson led Gardner-Webb in scoring with 14 points, all of which came during the second half, followed by Courtney Epps who contributed with 13 points.

The Lady Flames will visit Winthrop Feb. 15 looking to complete a season sweep of the Eagles. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Winthrop Coliseum.

Contact Chris McNair
at cjmcnair@liberty.edu.
 


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