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Liberty Stymies High Point in 58-41 Victory
Defense was the name of the game during a battle between the Big South Conference's top two women's basketball teams, Saturday afternoon at the Millis Center. Liberty extended its conference lead by holding High Point to season lows for points and field goal percentage during the Lady Flames' 58-41 victory.
After leading by just two points (29-27) at halftime, Liberty limited the Panthers to only 14 second-half points. High Point shot just 20.8 percent (10-of-48) for the game and only 13.8 percent (4-of-29) after halftime, while being held without a made three-pointer.
Ashley Rininger's 17 points paced all scorers, lifting Liberty to a 15-6 overall record and an 11-1 Big South mark. The Lady Flames now own a two-game lead over High Point in the Big South standings after sweeping the two-game regular-season series from the Panthers for the first time since 2010-11.
High Point, which saw its 15-game home winning streak halted, drops to 13-8 overall and 9-3 in Big South play. The Panthers' two leading scorers on the season (Stacia Robertson and Kaylah Keys) were held to 11 points on 3-of-20 shooting. Keys was held scoreless for the first time in her career.
Rininger scored all of Liberty's points during an early 7-0 surge that gave the Lady Flames an 11-5 advantage at the 15:37 mark.
Liberty held the Panthers without a made field goal for 13 minutes, enabling the red-clad visitors to open up a 22-12 lead on Jasmine Gardner's putback at 5:56.
Ashante Richard helped the Panthers battle back with six points during High Point's 15-7 surge to close out the opening stanza. As a result, Liberty's halftime lead was just two points (29-27).
Both teams struggled from the field before halftime, as Liberty shot 34.5 percent (10-of-29) and High Point connected at a 31.6 percent (6-of-19) clip. The Lady Flames and Panthers combined to make only one triple before halftime.
High Point got to the foul line 21 times during the opening half, making 15 of them for 71.4 percent. Liberty shot 8-of-10 for 80 percent.
Liberty had the upper hand in rebounds (21-19) and points in the paint (14-8) during the first 20 minutes.
Latrice Phelps' eight points topped High Point's scoring chart for the opening half.
After being sidelined for most of the first half due to foul trouble, Ashley Rininger scored four points during Liberty's 10-0 run to start the second half. Her jumper from the foul line made it 39-27, Lady Flames, at the 14:46 mark.
Robertson got the Panthers on the board with a three-point play with 14:35 remaining, starting a mini run by the home team. Another three-point play, this one by Phelps, cut High Point's deficit to 43-35 with 10:33 remaining.
But that was as close as the Panthers got, as High Point did not make another field goal until Robertson's perimeter hoop at the 1:37 mark.
Liberty went on to close out its second 17-point win of the year against High Point, improving to 16-3 at the Millis Center since the start of the 2008-09 season. The road team has won 10 of the last 13 meetings between the Lady Flames and Panthers.
Liberty closes out the month of January with an 8-1 record, improving to 114-16 in January tilts under Carey Green.
The Lady Flames finished at 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the field but just 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from beyond the three-point arc.
After struggling from the free throw line during its last four games, Liberty returned to form on Saturday, shooting 80 percent (12-of-15). High Point scored more than half of its points from the charity stripe, ending the matinee at 72.4 percent (21-of-29).
Liberty outrebounded its 10th straight opponent (47-39) and scored 20 more points in the paint than the Panthers (32-12).
The Lady Flames forced 23 High Point turnovers and converted them into 18 points.
Rininger, who scored 10 of her 17 points after halftime, added six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Buer totaled 12 points and a season-high four assists.
Sadalia Ellis scored in double figures for the second straight game with 10 points and did a bit of everything for the Lady Flames. She tied her career high with five rebounds, came up with a game-high four steals and blocked a career-best three High Point shots.
Adams tied her season high with 11 rebounds, while Gardner added nine boards.
Despite shooting just 3-of-13 from the field, Robertson still managed a productive outing with 11 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Phelps tied her for the team lead with 11 points.
Liberty will return to Lynchburg for a Monday evening contest against Radford (11-9, 8-3 Big South). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Vines Center, as the Lady Flames will attempt to complete a regular-season sweep of the third-place Highlanders. Liberty notched a come-from-behind 72-63 victory at the Dedmon Center on Dec. 6.