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PC Holds Off Liberty to Take Over Big South Lead
|Emily Frazier scored a career-high 16 points on Thursday, but Liberty lost to Presbyterian College, 51-49.|
Presbyterian College picked a good time for its first-ever women's basketball victory over Liberty. The Blue Hose held off the Lady Flames' furious game-ending run and took over sole possession of the Big South Conference lead with a 51-49 victory, Thursday evening at the Vines Center.
Presbyterian College led by 13 points (51-38) with five minutes remaining before Liberty went on an 11-0 run to trim the deficit to two. However, Devon Brown's layup rolled off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded and the Blue Hose escaped with the win.
Liberty falls to 10-5 overall and 2-1 in the Big South after seeing its three-game winning streak halted. The Lady Flames have now lost three consecutive Big South home openers.
Presbyterian College, which defeated Liberty for the first time in 10 tries, is now 8-6 overall. Led by Mariah Pietrowski's game-high and season-high 17 points on the night, the Blue Hose are 3-0 to start Big South play for the first time in program history.
The early stages of the game featured two ties and a pair of lead changes. Neither team led by more than three points until Brown's triple from the left wing gave Liberty a 15-11 edge, 9:54 before halftime.
Points came at a premium during the remainder of the opening period, with the Lady Flames and Blue Hose combining for just 10 points. Liberty took a slim 19-17 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball in the first half. Liberty made just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) of its field goals, while Presbyterian College was not much better at 36.4 percent (8-of-22).
Brittany Campbell and Ashley Rininger grabbed five rebounds apiece in the first half, helping Liberty post a 22-16 rebounding advantage.
Brown led all first-half scorers with seven points, while Emily Frazier chipped in five points for the Lady Flames. Pietrowski was PC's top scorer during the opening 20 minutes, tallying six points.
Tolu Omotola and Frazier both hit layups during the first 42 seconds of the second half, helping Liberty open the stanza with a 7-2 run. Frazier's trifecta from the left wing swished through the net with 17:52 left, giving Liberty its largest lead of the game at 26-19.
The Blue Hose countered with a 17-5 surge, as Liberty went 6:28 without making a field goal. Shonda Burnside's old-fashioned three-point play at the 13:17 mark made the score 36-31 in favor of Presbyterian College.
A Jasmine Gardner free throw and a layup by Brown trimmed the deficit to 36-34 at 11:24.
PC, which hit 11 of its first 13 field goal attempts to start the second half, then pushed its lead to double digits at 46-36 when Dria David hit a free throw at 8:18.
David's foul shot was part of a 13-2 run by the Blue Hose. Her fast-break layup with 5:44 on the clock bolstered the visitors' lead to 13, 49-36.
Pietrowski canned a layup with 5:08 to play to give PC another 13-point bulge at 51-38. Those were the final points the Blue Hose would score, as Liberty tallied the last 11 points of the night.
Brown got the game-closing run started with three straight points and a blocked shot. Fellow senior LaKendra Washington nailed a three-pointer with 3:41 to play, cutting the gap to 51-44.
Liberty kept chipping away, getting two made free throws by Frazier, an Omotola turnaround bank shot and then a Rininger foul shot with 38.6 seconds left that made the score 51-49.
Washington rebounded Devin Fothergill's missed jumper on the other end of the court, setting up Liberty's final possession.
Presbyterian College shot 52 percent (13-of-25) during the second half to finish the game at 44.7 percent (21-of-47). Liberty closed the night at a season-low 28.1 percent (16-of-57) from the field and only 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the foul line.
Liberty enjoyed a 44-32 rebounding edge and converted 22 offensive boards into 18 second-chance points. However, the Blue Hose scored 30 points in the paint to Liberty's 22.
Frazier totaled a career-high 16 points for the Lady Flames and Brown joined her in double figures with a dozen markers. In the process, Brown became the fifth player in program history and the 13th player in Big South annals to go over 1,700 career points, finishing the night with 1,710 markers.
Omotola and Campbell pulled down eight rebounds apiece, with Campbell's board total setting a career high.
In addition to her 17 points, Pietrowski grabbed a team-best seven rebounds for the victors. Fellow post player Burnside chipped in 11 points, while David distributed seven of PC's 19 assists.
Liberty will host UNC Asheville (2-12, 0-3 Big South) Saturday at 3 p.m. as the first half of a doubleheader with the Flames men's basketball team at the Vines Center. The Liberty men's squad will also face Asheville, with tipoff set for 6 p.m.
The Blue Hose will continue their road swing on Saturday with a contest at Campbell. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. for the battle between two of the three remaining unbeaten teams in conference play.