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Bench Bunch Pushes Liberty Past Presbyterian
Liberty's reserves paved the way for the Lady Flames' 59-42 victory over Presbyterian, Monday evening at the Vines Center, scoring 37 points.
Leading the way was the trio of Jaymee Fisher-Davis (team-high and season-high 13 points), Mickayla Sanders (10 points and a season-high eight rebounds) and Emily Frazier (nine points, season-high nine assists, season-high three steals and zero turnovers). They helped Liberty shake off a sluggish start and defeat the nation's No. 3-ranked defensive squad.
The Lady Flames are now 9-5 overall after their third straight win and their fifth consecutive home victory, which marked Liberty's 250th triumph inside the Vines Center. Off to its best start in conference play since 2008-09, Liberty is the lone remaining unbeaten Big South women's basketball team at 5-0.
Presbyterian fell to 7-7 overall and 2-3 in Big South play despite a career-high 15 points by Aianna Kelly. The Blue Hose shot just 30.2 percent (13-of-43) from the field and scored only six points in the paint.
Presbyterian held Liberty without a made field goal for 8:52 to start the game, helping the Blue Hose take an early 9-4 lead.
Fisher-Davis and Frazier bookended Liberty's ensuing 10-0 run with three-pointers. Frazier's triple tickled the twine 6:25 before halftime, putting the Lady Flames in front, 14-9.
Back-to-back triples by Rebecca Walker and Elizabeth Landers finished off a 10-3 PC surge, which briefly gave the Blue Hose a 21-19 advantage at the 2:56 mark.
Liberty then scored the half's final nine points, punctuated by consecutive Ashley Rininger layups. As a result, the Lady Flames took a 28-21 lead into the locker room.
Liberty's reserves scored 19 of the team's 28 first-half points. The Lady Flames also enjoyed considerable advantages in rebounds (21-12), points in the paint (10-0) and second-chance points (10-2) prior to halftime.
Six was the magic number for the Lady Flames during the first 20 minutes, as Sanders led the team with six points, Rininger pulled down a team-best six rebounds and Frazier distributed a half-best six assists.
Walker paced PC's first-half scoring attack with six points on a pair of three-pointers.
After being held scoreless during the opening half, Karly Buer hit two free throws at 17:30 of the second half, wrapping up an 11-0 run with Liberty on top, 30-21.
The Blue Hose tallied the next three points, pulling to within 30-24 when Landers canned a free throw with 15:48 on the clock.
Liberty countered with a 9-2 surge, bolstering its lead to 13 points (39-26) when Sanders turned a long Sadalia Ellis into a layup at 13:09.
PC only climbed back to within single digits once the rest of the way, at 49-40 with 4:07 after two free throws by Kelly.
Liberty then sealed the victory by scoring 10 unanswered points. Fisher-Davis' acrobatic bank shot with 1:29 left gave the Lady Flames their largest lead (59-40) on the way to a 17-point win.
The victory moves Liberty to 250-64 in its 25 seasons at the Vines Center, including 5-1 this year.
The Lady Flames shot well from the field (42 percent on 21-of-50) and three-point range (41.2 percent on 7-of-17), helping offset their season-low 55.6 percent (10-of-18) performance from the foul line.
Liberty dominated nearly every statistical category, including rebounds (43-27), points in the paint (22-6), points off turnovers (23-5) and second-chance points (13-2).
Named Big South Player of the Week earlier in the day, Rininger just missed recording her third straight double-double, ending up with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
For the Blue Hose, Walker joined Kelly in double digits with 11 points.
Liberty will play three of its next four games in South Carolina, beginning Thursday at Coastal Carolina (7-6, 1-3 Big South). Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. at The HTC Center, where the Lady Flames will aim for their 43rd consecutive victory over the Chanticleers.