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Liberty Defeats Radford for 7th Straight Win
Defense, rebounding and a balanced scoring attack pushed Liberty past Radford, 67-53, Sunday afternoon inside the Vines Center. The Lady Flames' seventh straight win and 11th victory in their last 12 outings keeps them tied with UNC Asheville atop the Big South standings.
Liberty (14-8, 11-2 Big South) limited Radford (11-11, 7-6 Big South) to 40.4 percent (21-of-52) field goal shooting and posted a decisive 40-23 advantage in a battle between the Big South's top two rebounding teams.
Ashley Rininger (16 points), Sadalia Ellis (12 points), Mickayla Sanders (12 points) and Katelyn Adams (10 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks) all reached double figures for the Lady Flames, who shot 51 percent (26-of-51) for the game, including 63.6 percent (14-of-22) after halftime.
The Lady Flames extended several winning streaks on Sunday, as they have now won six straight home games, 11 straight meetings with Radford and 20 consecutive home games against Big South opponents.
Aisha Foy scored 10 of her 14 points during the second half for the Highlanders, who have now dropped four of their last five games.
Following an early 6-0 burst by the visitors, Radford led for nearly the entire first quarter. Aided by four points and six rebounds from Janayla White, the Highlanders took a 16-13 lead at the end of 10 minutes. Sanders scored seven first-quarter points for the Lady Flames.
Liberty turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, limiting the Highlanders to six points. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames closed the period with a 7-0 run over the final 1:50. KK Barbour scored the final five points of the surge, sending Liberty into halftime with a 29-22 edge.
The Lady Flames won the first-half rebounding battle, 21-14, and held Radford to 36 percent (9-of-25) field goal shooting.
Liberty took its first double-digit lead of the afternoon (37-26) on a fast break layup by Candice Leatherwood with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter. Radford converted three turnovers into a 6-0 run, pulling to within 39-34 on a Gaby Gilmore layup at 3:02.
The Lady Flames then made their last five field goal attempts of the quarter, including three by Rininger, reclaiming a 47-37 edge at the end of the period. Rininger scored 10 of Liberty's 18 third-quarter points as the Lady Flames shot 64.3 percent (9-of-14) for the stanza.
Liberty's lead remained in double figures throughout the final period, as the Lady Flames made five of their eight field goal attempts and 10 of their 13 free throws, after only getting to the foul line three times during the first three quarters. Liberty became just the third Big South team to score 60 or more points against Radford this season and recorded their sixth consecutive double-digit win at home.
The Lady Flames improved to 103-1 under Carey Green when shooting 50 percent or better from the field. They were aided by 38 points in the paint.
Liberty attempted a season-low seven three-pointers, making two of them for 28.6 percent.
Radford converted Liberty's 21 turnovers into 19 points. However, the Highlanders were hurt by 45 percent (9-of-20) foul shooting on the day.
Rininger's 16 points in 20 minutes marked her highest-scoring game since an 18-point effort against Charleston Southern on Dec. 5.
Adams recorded her second straight double-double, her fourth of the season and the 13th of her career. She also moved into sole possession of fifth place in program history with 135 career blocked shots.
Sanders' dozen points gives the junior a 17.0 ppg average during her last four meetings with Radford. She hit both of the Lady Flames' three-pointers on Sunday, moving into 12th place on Liberty's all-time list with 96 career triples made.
Ellis scored 10 of her 12 points during the second half, including a 6-of-6 showing at the foul line in the fourth quarter. The Texas native is now 14-of-16 from the free throw line during the last two games.
Barbour's seven points tied the freshman's career high and contributed to Liberty's 29-9 advantage in bench points. Fellow reserve Leatherwood tied her career high with five assists.
White added 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for Radford. However, the conference's leading rebounder was held without a board after the first quarter.
Liberty will remain at home for a Tuesday matchup with Campbell (8-13, 3-9 Big South). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center as the Lady Flames seek a regular-season sweep of the Lady Camels. Liberty notched a 62-52 victory at Campbell on Dec. 29.