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Kearney Helps Lady Flames Hold Off Campbell
Liberty redshirt senior Catherine Kearney posted a career-high scoring total for the second straight game, as her 22 points led the Lady Flames to a 62-52 Big South victory at Campbell, Tuesday at Gore Arena.
Kearney, who had scored a career-high 20 points against Shepherd on Dec. 19, added 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for her second straight double-double and the fifth of her career.
The Lady Flames needed all of Kearney's production to hold off a late charge by the Camels, which cut a 22-point third-quarter deficit to seven during the final period.
In the end, Liberty closed out the calendar year 2015 with its fourth victory over Campbell during the year and its second straight win overall. The Lady Flames, now 5-7 overall and 2-1 in Big South play, also got 16 points, a career-high nine rebounds, five assists and three steals from Sadalia Ellis during their first road victory since the Nov. 13 season opener at Appalachian State.
Despite an outstanding 21-point, 11-rebound effort by Amanda Coffer, Campbell falls to 6-5 overall and sees its Big South record even up at 1-1. The Camels are now 16-4 in Buies Creek during the last two seasons, with two of those setbacks coming at the hands of Liberty.
Campbell struggled to shoot 27.3 percent (18-of-66) night from the field and 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from three-point range. Leading scorer RaeChaun Edwards managed just four points, nine below her season average.
Seven different Lady Flames scored points during a 14-0 first quarter run. Molly Reagan's up-and-under layup at 1:36 capped the surge, giving navy blue-clad Liberty a 21-9 advantage. The Lady Flames led 23-13 at the end of the first 10 minutes.
Liberty then tallied the second quarter's first four points, including a Kearney hoop at 8:41 which gave the visitors their largest lead of the opening half, 27-13. Campbell answered with a 9-0 burst, pulling to within 27-22 on Coffer's three-pointer from the corner, 6:01 before halftime.
Ellis scored the only seven points during the final 4:56 of the first half, extending Liberty's lead back to a dozen points (36-24) at the intermission. Ellis (14 points) and Kearney (11 points) carried the Lady Flames' first-half scoring load, while Coffer tossed in 14 points during the first 20 minutes for the Camels.
Kearney scored seven straight points during a 1:33 stretch early in the third quarter, including the first two tallies of a 9-0 Lady Flames run. A pair of free throws by Reagan at the 4:44 mark provided Liberty its largest lead of the contest at 52-30.
However, the Lady Flames did not score again for the next 7:52, during which time Campbell reeled off 11 straight points. MaKala Rouse scored six of those points for the Camels, including two free throws at 7:17 of the fourth quarter which trimmed the Liberty lead to 52-41.
Campbell's aggressive defensive pressure forced nine fourth-quarter turnovers by the Lady Flames. One of those led to a Summer Price fast break layup, cutting the deficit to seven points (56-49) with 1:36 to play.
Mickayla Sanders countered with a layup of her own just 16 seconds later, and Liberty was able to hit four of six free throw attempts in the final minute to wrap up the 10-point victory.
The Lady Flames shot 44.4 percent (24-of-54) for the game, aided by 36 points in the paint. Liberty also finished with a 44-37 rebounding edge and blocked a season-high seven shots.
Campbell converted Liberty's 22 turnovers into 21 points on the night.
Kearney's efforts boosted her averages to 21.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg and 2.5 bpg in the two games since teammate Ashley Rininger went down with an injury.
Ellis' 16 points were the senior's most since she tallied a career-high 25 points versus Elon on Nov. 16. She also came up one rebound shy of her first career double-double.
Playing about 30 miles away from her hometown of Clayton, N.C., Sanders scored four of her nine points during the final quarter.
Rouse finished with nine points for the Camels, setting a new career high. Despite being limited in the scoring column, teammate Edwards led all players in both assists and steals.
Liberty will remain on the road for its first contest of 2016, Saturday at Radford. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. at the Dedmon Center for the 64th all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and Highlanders, who are 5-6 overall, 1-1 in Big South play.