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Adams, Rininger Lead Liberty Past UNC Asheville
|Ashley Rininger's 14th double-double of the season (20 points, 11 rebounds) helped Liberty notch a 64-49 win over UNC Asheville on Thursday.|
Liberty was able to avenge an earlier loss to UNC Asheville, Thursday evening at the Vines Center, thanks in large part to starting post players Katelyn Adams and Ashley Rininger. Both fashioned double-doubles during the Lady Flames' 64-49 triumph.
Adams (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Rininger (20 points, 11 rebounds) fueled Liberty's dominance down low. The Lady Flames dominated the Bulldogs in rebounding (48-28), points in the paint (38-14) and second-chance points (21-10).
As a result, Liberty improves to 16-10 overall and 12-5 in Big South play. Now in sole possession of third place in the conference standings, the Lady Flames clinched a first-round bye in the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
Asheville falls to 10-16 overall and 7-10 in the Big South with its fifth straight road loss and seventh straight setback at the Vines Center. The Bulldogs, who have still never defeated Liberty twice in the same season, shot just 28.8 percent (15-of-52) on the evening.
Three-pointers by Emily Frazier and Jaymee Fisher-Davis keyed an early 11-0 run by the Lady Flames, which put Liberty ahead for good. Mickayla Sanders' mid-range jumper finished off the surge with Liberty on top, 19-7, 12:04 before halftime.
The Lady Flames' lead reached 14 points (25-11) prior to an 8-2 spurt by Asheville. Jeannie Buckner bookended the run with three-pointers, including one which cut her team's deficit to 27-19 at the 6:12 mark.
The black-clad Bulldogs continued chipping away at Liberty's advantage, pulling to within five points twice late in the half. Adams then closed out a strong first half with a putback hoop which gave the Lady Flames a 37-28 halftime edge.
Aided by 22 points in the paint and 14 second-chance points, Liberty shot 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from the field before halftime. Meanwhile, Asheville connected on only 34.5 percent (10-of-29) of its first-half field goal tries.
Adams' seven rebounds helped Liberty build a 23-13 rebounding advantage during the first 20 minutes. The Minnesota native also tallied 10 points to pace all first-half scorers.
Buckner and Leah Wormack notched six points apiece for the visiting Bulldogs prior to the intermission.
Asheville did not make a field goal for the first 6:10 of the second half. Rininger scored eight points during that time, helping bolster Liberty's lead to 47-29.
The Lady Flames then went eight minutes without a made field goal, enabling the Bulldogs to pull to within 13 (48-35) after a 6-1 surge.
Asheville got as close as 11 points behind, when Tianna Knuckles' three-point play made it a 55-44 game with 4:10 left.
But a comeback was not in the cards for the Bulldogs, who made only five second-half field goals. The Lady Flames closed out a 15-point win and improved to 48-8 all-time against Asheville.
Liberty finished the contest at 44.1 percent (26-of-59) from the floor. Fisher-Davis accounted for two of the Lady Flames' three triples on the evening, helping Liberty outscore its opponent in bench points for the 10th straight outing, 14-12.
Rininger scored 14 second-half points during her seventh 20-point outing of the season. The Buckeye State native also tallied her 14th double-double of the season, establishing a new program sophomore-class single-season record.
Adams' double-double was her second in as many games against Asheville this year. She now has five double-doubles this season and seven in her career.
Simone Brown chipped in eight points and five rebounds during her second start in a row.
Frazier distributed a team-high four assists, leaving the redshirt junior two shy of 300 for her career.
For the Bulldogs, Wormack and Brittany Gwyn led the way with 10 points each. Knuckles collected a team-best five rebounds, while Ja'Da Brayboy topped all players in assists (5) and steals (4).
Asheville's leading scorer and rebounder on the season, Paige Love, was limited to three points and one board on Thursday.
Liberty will wrap up its 2013-14 regular-season home schedule Saturday at 7 p.m., when Big South-leading Winthrop (20-6, 14-3 Big South) visits the Vines Center. The Lady Flames will attempt to complete a season sweep of the Eagles, after recording a 77-70 overtime win at the Winthrop Coliseum on Jan. 16. Liberty has won 21 straight home meetings with Winthrop.