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Defense, FT Shooting Key Liberty's 6th Straight Win
Trailing during the second half for the third consecutive road game, Liberty used stout defense and timely free throw shooting to extend its winning streak to six. The Lady Flames held Charleston Southern to 19 second-half points and shot 16-of-22 from the foul line during the final 20 minutes of a 59-49 victory, Monday evening at the Buc Dome.
CSU led by eight points with 7:01 to play in the third quarter before the Lady Flames posted a 16-1 run. Liberty never trailed again, improving to 13-8 overall and 10-2 in Big South play. The Lady Flames remain in a first-place tie with UNC Asheville with eight games remaining.
Katelyn Adams paced the Lady Flames in both points (11) and rebounds (12) for her third double-double of the season and the 12th of her career. In her second game back from injury, Ashley Rininger added 10 points and eight rebounds, contributing to Liberty's 11th consecutive victory over the Buccaneers and a sweep of the two-game regular-season series.
CSU, which had won back-to-back games entering Monday's contest, falls to 10-11 overall and 5-7 in the Big South despite boasting the game's two highest scorers in reserve guards Alecia Hardy (season-high 14 points) and Ke'Asia Jackson (13). The Buccaneers were undone by 38.1 percent (8-of-21) free throw shooting, including just 23.1 percent (3-of-13) during the second half.
A see-saw opening quarter saw five ties and six lead changes. Led by Jackson's six points off the bench, CSU took a 14-13 edge after 10 minutes of play.
The Buccaneers recorded the game's first extended run, a 10-0 surge fueled by six Hardy points. Alyssa Mann's three-pointer put Charleston Southern on top, 24-18, 4:37 before halftime. The home team stayed in front for the remainder of the period, taking a 30-26 advantage into halftime.
CSU held Liberty to 34.6 percent (9-of-26) field goal shooting during the first 20 minutes and forced 13 turnovers. The Buccaneers got 20 bench points in the first half, including 10 by Hardy.
Nayla Long opened the third-quarter scoring with a pair of perimeter jumpers, putting the home team in front, 34-26, at the 7:01 mark. Liberty then fashioned the aforementioned 16-1 run to retake the advantage, aided by a 10-of-12 performance at the foul line during the period. Sadalia Ellis hit all eight of her third-quarter free throws, helping the Lady Flames take a 42-36 edge at the end of three.
Two triples by Jackson in four seconds closed out an 8-2 CSU run early in the fourth quarter, tying the score at 44-44 with 8:29 remaining. Mickayla Sanders' banked-in three-pointer and back-to-back layups by Adams enabled Liberty to regain control at 51-44 at the 5:52 mark.
The Lady Flames limited the Buccaneers to one field goal the rest of the way, closing out their 10th Big South win of the year. Liberty has now reached double figures in Big South victories for 17 consecutive seasons.
The Lady Flames were victorious despite shooting just 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the field and 20 percent (2-of-10) from three-point range. Liberty finished at 74.2 percent (23-of-31) from the free throw line, setting a season high for free throws made.
CSU was limited to 32.8 percent (19-of-58) field goal shooting, including 21.9 percent (7-of-32) after halftime.
Liberty parlayed its size advantage into significant edges in rebounds (51-34), points in the paint (28-16) and second-chance points (19-9).
In addition to her points and rebounds, Adams blocked a pair of shots. The Minnesota native is now tied with Jennifer Fairfax for fifth place in program history with 131 career rejections.
Rininger's eight rebounds enabled her to move into fifth place in program history with 878 career boards.
Catherine Kearney chipped in nine points and seven rebounds, while Ellis scored all eight of her points after halftime. Ellis also recorded a game-high six assists, despite playing only three minutes during the first half due to foul trouble.
CSU's Mann, who entered the contest as the Big South's second-leading scorer, managed only seven points on 2-of-9 shooting. However, the senior guard topped the Buccaneers in both rebounds and assists.
Liberty will return home for its next two games, beginning Sunday at 2 p.m. when Radford (11-10, 7-5 Big South) comes to the Vines Center for a contest which will air on the American Sports Network. The Lady Flames posted a 49-43 victory at Radford during the teams' first meeting, Jan. 2 at the Dedmon Center.