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Rininger Shines in Liberty's Win at Asheville
Redshirt junior post player Ashley Rininger posted a season-high 22 points and 13 rebounds Tuesday evening at Kimmel Arena, leading Liberty past host UNC Asheville, 67-55.
Rininger's fourth double-double of the season helped the Lady Flames snap a three-game losing skid. Liberty is now 7-5 overall and tied for first place in the Big South Conference standings at 3-0.
Asheville suffered its first Big South setback of the season, shooting just 34.6 percent (18-of-52) from the floor while falling to 3-9 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The Bulldogs have now lost five of their last six outings.
The Lady Flames jumped out to a 6-0 lead within the first two minutes of the game, but was then held to four points over the next eight minutes. Liberty's shooting woes enabled the host Bulldogs to come back and take a 13-10 advantage on Tacey Trammell's triple from the right wing at the 11:07 mark.
The lead changed hands three times during the next 3:33, before the Lady Flames pushed their edge out to eight points at 29-21 when Jaymee Fisher-Davis nailed a three-pointer.
Liberty took a 31-25 lead into the locker room at halftime after holding Asheville to 30.8 percent (8-of-26) field goal shooting during the first 20 minutes of play.
Liberty made 39.3 percent (11-of-28) of its first-half field goal attempts and pulled down 23 rebounds to the Bulldogs' 17.
Rininger paced the Lady Flames in both points (8) and rebounds (7) prior to halftime, while Asheville's Chatori Major led all players with nine points.
Rininger scored eight of Liberty's first 13 points to start the second half, including a layup with 15:04 to play to give the red-clad Lady Flames their first double-digit lead (42-32).
Liberty's advantage got as large as 17 points when Simone Brown hit two free throws at the 1:36 mark.
The Lady Flames staved off UNC Asheville's final comeback attempt, closing out a 67-55 victory. Liberty starts out 3-0 in Big South play for the first time since 2010-11 and gained a measure of revenge for last season's 83-80 overtime setback at Kimmel Arena.
Liberty finished the game by shooting 42 percent (21-of-50) from the field and 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from three-point range, sinking three triples after halftime.
The free throw line made a big difference in Tuesday's outcome, as the Lady Flames shot over 80 percent for the fifth time in the last six games (80.8 percent on 21-of-26) while Asheville hit just 58.6 percent (17-of-29).
The Lady Flames controlled the boards by a 40-33 margin, including 13 offensive caroms.
Rininger led the way on the glass, as her 13 rebounds equaled the Buckeye State native's season high. Rininger, who is now averaging 21.0 ppg in her last three meetings with Asheville, added four blocked shots. She has turned away 10 shots in the last two games.
Rininger is now tied with Theresa Bream for fifth place on Liberty's all-time list with 23 career double-doubles. She also became the 24th Lady Flame ever to score 800 career points and finished the evening with 821 points.
Karly Buer chipped in 15 points and has reached double figures in 11 of her first 12 games as a Lady Flame.
Playing in her home state of North Carolina, Fisher-Davis hit a pair of triples and scored a season-best 10 points. She has now hit 50 career three-pointers.
Jasmine Gardner added nine rebounds off of Carey Green's bench.
Brown had one of Liberty's rare free throw misses on Tuesday, snapping her streak of 21 straight made foul shots. The sophomore fell one shy of the program record of 22 consecutive made free throws, set by Jennifer Fairfax in 1991.
Major was the only Asheville player to score in double digits, as her 11 points helped the Bulldogs tally 29 bench points to the Lady Flames' 13.
Liberty will return home for its next two games, beginning with a Saturday afternoon matchup against Big South co-leader High Point. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. at the Vines Center for the opener of a doubleheader with the Liberty men's basketball team. The Flames will play host to Presbyterian in the nightcap at 7 p.m.
The Lady Flames will look to snap the Panthers' three-game winning streak at the Vines Center, including a 94-89 double overtime decision last season.