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Sanders Helps Liberty Halt Radford's Home Win Streak

January 2, 2016
|  Radford, Va.
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Mickayla Sanders scored 19 points and made four triples after halftime of Liberty's 49-43 win at Radford on Saturday.

Junior Mickayla Sanders scored 19 of her season-high 21 points after halftime, leading Liberty past Radford, 49-43, Saturday afternoon at the Dedmon Center. In the process, the Lady Flames snapped the Highlanders' 13-game home winning streak.

Sadalia Ellis (12 points) also played a key role in Liberty's third straight win, including a stepback triple late in the shot clock with 2:56 to play which put the Lady Flames in front for good. The defensive struggle featured six ties and 11 lead changes.

Liberty improves to 6-7 overall and 3-1 in Big South play, moving into a tie with Presbyterian for second place in the conference standings. The Lady Flames have now been victorious in nine straight visits to the Dedmon Center and have won 10 consecutive meetings with the Highlanders overall.

The Highlanders, who had not lost a home game since Dec. 18, 2014, fall to 5-7 overall and 1-2 in the Big South. Freshman Lydia Rivers fashioned her first career double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds), but Radford struggled shooting from the field (34.1 percent, 14-of-41), three-point range (10 percent, 1-of-10) and from the foul line (53.8 percent, 14-of-26).

Liberty closed out a back-and-forth first quarter with a 6-0 run. Consecutive layups by Catherine Kearney enabled the Lady Flames to take a 13-9 advantage at the end of 10 minutes.

Liberty also scored the second quarter's first four points, extending its lead to 17-9 on a Brooke Alexander floater at the 8:07 mark. However, the Lady Flames went more than six minutes without scoring another point.

During that drought, Radford leveled the score with an 8-0 surge. Katelyn Adams' layup then sent the Lady Flames to the intermission with a 19-17 advantage.

Liberty held the Highlanders to 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from the field during the first half. However, Radford stayed close by getting to the foul line 11 more times (14-3) than Liberty and owning an 18-12 rebounding advantage during the first 20 minutes.

Sanders tallied 13 of Liberty's 14 points during the third quarter, capped off by a three-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play which enabled the Lady Flames to turn a 31-27 deficit into a 33-31 edge after three.

Driving layups by Gaby Gilmore and Aisha Foy closed out a 6-0 Radford run during the final quarter, tying the score at 39-39 at the 3:51 mark. Ellis then scored five points during a decisive 7-0 burst by the Lady Flames, including the aforementioned triple. Sanders added a game-sealing free throw at the 6.6-second mark, after four Radford points in 2.6 seconds had made it a three-point game.

Liberty shot only 37.2 percent (16-of-43) from the field on the day, but was aided by six made triples at a 42.9 percent clip.

In a battle between the Big South's top two rebounding teams, Radford pulled down 37 boards to Liberty's 28.

The Lady Flames were able to come up with a season-high nine steals, including three by Alexander.

Sanders, who eclipsed the 500-point mark for her career on Saturday, has now scored 20+ points during each of her two career appearances at the Dedmon Center. She totaled a career-high 22 points at Radford as a freshman on Feb. 27, 2014.

Ellis scored in double figures and made two triples for the second consecutive game.

With Kearney limited to 14 minutes played before fouling out, Adams contributed seven points, four boards and a pair of steals.

Foy made it two Radford players in double figures with 10 points, while Janayla White tracked down eight rebounds, including five at the offensive end.

Liberty will return to Lynchburg for a Monday evening clash with Big South-leading UNC Asheville (11-2, 4-0 Big South). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center.