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Liberty Shoots Past VCU, 76-63
Using one of its best overall offensive performances of the 2012-13 season, Liberty closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 76-63 victory at VCU, Thursday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Lady Flames shot a season-high 52.9 percent (27-of-51) from the field, including 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from three-point range. Redshirt sophomore point guard Emily Frazier set the table for it all, dishing out a career-best 12 assists in the victory.
Liberty, which has now been victorious in each of its last three visits to VCU, improves to 9-4 on the season. The Rams drop to 5-6 with their second consecutive home loss.
After Devon Brown opened the game's scoring with a three-pointer from the left wing, VCU scored 10 straight points. Carleeda Green tallied seven of those points, including a hoop at 16:17 which made the score 10-3 in favor of the Rams.
Liberty bounced right back with a 7-0 run, leveling the score at 10-10 on Jasmine Gardner's layup at the 13:00 mark.
The Lady Flames did not reclaim the lead until there was 7:38 remaining in the opening period, when Brown converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 18-17. That was part of a 10-0 Liberty run, which ended with a LaKendra Washington triple from near NBA range. Her trifecta put the Lady Flames on top, 23-17, at 6:29.
Robyn Parks' mid-range jumper at the 3:18 mark pulled VCU within four (25-21), 3:18 before the intermission.
Blue-clad Liberty then outscored the Rams, 11-1, to close the stanza. Brown sent the Lady Flames to the locker room with a 36-22 advantage after hitting a floater as the halftime buzzer sounded.
After getting off to a slow start, Liberty ended up shooting 48.4 percent (15-of-31) from the field during the first half. VCU, which took 14 of its 22 attempts from beyond the three-point arc, closed the period at 31.8 percent (7-of-22) from the floor.
Liberty won the first-half rebounding battle, 19-11, including nine offensive boards. The Lady Flames also dished out 11 assists during the first 20 minutes of play.
Brown was the lone player to reach double figures in the first half, totaling 10 points for the Lady Flames. Washington scored eight quick points off the bench, while classmate Tolu Omotola added seven points and a half-best five rebounds. Frazier chipped in eight of Liberty's 11 assists.
Parks came off the bench to score nine first-half points for VCU, while Shekinah Henry corralled four rebounds.
VCU notched the first five points of the second half, cutting their deficit to 36-27 when Janniina Koivunen sank a layup just over a minute into the period.
Liberty then outscored the Rams, 16-3, over the next 4:45. The Lady Flames canned four triples during the run, including Frazier's three-pointer from right in front of the Liberty bench at 14:14. That made the score 52-30 in favor of the visitors.
The Lady Flames' advantage reached 25 points on three occasions, including at 67-42 when Frazier hit a layup in traffic at the 5:07 mark.
VCU then hit half of its 10 three-pointers during the remainder of the contest, slicing the final margin to 13 points (76-63). It was Liberty's fifth win in its last seven meetings with the Rams and the Lady Flames' third consecutive road victory overall.
VCU shot the ball well during its second-half comeback attempt, finishing the stanza at 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the field and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from beyond the arc. The Rams also hit all eight of their free throw tries after halftime, finishing the game at 92.9 percent (13-of-14). Liberty fared well at the charity stripe as well, closing the game at 78.9 percent (15-of-19).
For the game, VCU made 43.5 percent (20-of-46) of its field goals, becoming the eighth straight team Liberty has kept below 50 percent. Half of the Rams' made field goals came from three-point distance.
The Lady Flames also outrebounded their eighth consecutive opponent, nearly doubling up the Rams on the glass, 33-18.
Omotola led all players with 10 rebounds and shared game-high honors with 15 points for her second double-double in a row. With her 10 caroms, Omotola became the 23rd Lady Flame ever to pull down 500 career boards.
Brown matched Omotola's 15-point scoring output and Washington made it three Liberty seniors in double figures with a season-best 11 points. Washington connected on all four of her field goals, including three triples, to highlight Liberty's 28 bench points.
Frazier's dozen assists marked the first time a Lady Flame has dished out double-digit assists in a game since Jan. 9, 2010. That day, Amber Mays had 10 helpers during a 67-38 win over Winthrop.
Three VCU players scored in double digits, topped by Parks' 15 points. Robyn Hobson scored all 13 of her points after halftime, while freshman Jessica Pellechio swished four triples for a dozen points.
Liberty will now close the regular season with 17 consecutive Big South Conference games, beginning Dec. 29 at 1 p.m. at Winthrop (6-4, 1-0 Big South). The Lady Flames will attempt to avenge their lone Big South road setback from the 2011-12 season, a 71-69 loss at Winthrop on Feb. 18, 2012.
Meanwhile, VCU will play at home for the second day in a row Friday at 2 p.m., when NJIT visits the Verizon Wireless Arena.