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28-0 Run Highlights Liberty's 20th Win
|LaKendra Washington scored a season-high 15 points Monday evening, contributing to Liberty's 84-53 win over UNC Asheville.|
Liberty and UNC Asheville exchanged the lead eight times during the early stages of Monday evening's contest inside the Vines Center. The Lady Flames then broke things open with a 28-0 run, propelling them to their 20th win of the season, an 84-53 decision over the Bulldogs.
Four Lady Flames reached double figures on the night, while the team shot 58.2 percent (32-of-55) from the field and made a season-high 11 three-pointers.
As a result, Liberty improved to 20-8 overall and 15-2 in the Big South. The Lady Flames' 15 conference wins ties them with the 2008-09 Liberty and 2009-10 Gardner-Webb squads for most Big South victories in a season in conference history.
Asheville drops to 7-20 overall and 3-13 in Big South play, despite making nine three-pointers of its own. The Bulldogs have now lost nine consecutive games overall and 16 straight road tilts, dating back to last year.
Tacey Trammell gave Asheville an early 3-2 advantage by making a three-pointer from the right wing on her team's opening possession. Liberty then notched a 7-0 run, going ahead by a 9-3 count when Danika Dale swished a triple of her own at the 16:52 mark.
Shortly thereafter, the Bulldogs went on a 6-0 burst, knotting the score at 11-11 on Gentry Manley's bank shot at 15:11. The lead then changed hands six times during the next eight and a half minutes.
Liberty led by a 35-31 count before closing the half with a 16-0 run. Devon Brown and Reagan Miller highlighted the surge by each hitting a pair of three-pointers. Miller's two triples during the final minute of the half provided the Lady Flames a 51-31 advantage at the intermission.
Both teams shot the ball well during the first half, as Liberty ended the first 20 minutes at 55.9 percent (19-of-34) from the field, 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from three-point range and 100 percent (6-of-6) from the foul line.
Asheville checked in at 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from the floor during the opening half, including 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from beyond the three-point arc.
Liberty controlled the paint before the break, notching a 23-7 rebounding cushion and scoring 22 points inside the paint.
Individually, Brown paced all players with 13 first-half points, while Tolu Omotola added 10 points and six rebounds. Miller contributed eight points and five of Liberty's 14 assists during the first half. Avery Warley grabbed seven rebounds in the opening half, single-handedly matching UNC Asheville's total as a team.
Trammell played all 20 minutes for the Bulldogs before halftime, scoring a team-high 11 points and sinking a trio of three-pointers.
Liberty held the visiting Bulldogs scoreless for nearly four and a half minutes to begin the second half. In the meantime, the Lady Flames ran off 12 straight points, extending their overall run to 28-0. Miller's triple with 16:05 to play made the score 63-31, Liberty.
Asheville's Lindsey Thompson scored her team's first points in more than nine minutes with a three-pointer from well beyond the arc at the 15:38 mark of the second half.
The Lady Flames kept their lead above 27 points the rest of the evening, closing out their 10th straight win in the head-to-head series with the Bulldogs, 84-53.
Liberty finished the game at 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from the three-point line, making double-digit triples in a contest for the first time since hitting 10 against Charleston Southern on Feb. 18, 2008. The performance also fell just one three-pointer shy of the Lady Flames' team record for triples in a single game.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames' defense put the clamps on Asheville during the second half, limiting the Bulldogs to 24.1 percent (7-of-29) field goal shooting. For the game, blue-clad Asheville ended up at 35.1 percent (20-of-57) from the field, becoming the 50th straight opponent Liberty has held below 50 percent shooting.
Liberty, ranked No. 1 nationally in rebound margin, did nothing to hurt its cause on Monday. The Lady Flames outrebounded the Bulldogs, 44-20, while scoring 36 points in the paint and 20 second-chance tallies.
LaKendra Washington scored 10 of her 15 points during the second half for the Lady Flames, while hitting three triples and coming up with three steals. Brown added 15 points of her own, to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
Miller finished with 14 points, sinking four three-pointers, and a game-high six assists. The freshman from Sanger, Texas has now hit 53 triples this season. That is the most by any Lady Flame since Cynthia Thomson knocked down 56 three-pointers in 1991-92.
Omotola rounded out Liberty's double-digit scorers with 12 points and a half-dozen rebounds.
Warley made all four of her field goal attempts while scoring eight points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. The appearance was No. 127 of Warley's collegiate career, tying Courtney Watkins' program record.
A trio of guards combined to score 40 of Asheville's points and hit eight three-pointers. Thompson scored a team-high 15 points, while Trammell chipped in 13 and Shonese Jones had 12 markers. Jones, one of the leading candidates for Big South Freshman of the Year, also topped the Bulldogs in both rebounds (7) and assists (5).
Liberty will close out the 2011-12 regular season Friday at 7 p.m., when Commonwealth rival Radford visits the Vines Center. The Lady Flames defeated the Highlanders by a 76-68 count in both teams' Big South Conference opener on Dec. 31.
UNC Asheville will play its final two games of the regular season at home, beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. That evening, the Bulldogs will host Campbell inside the Justice Center.