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Lady Flames Bounce Back with 75-49 Victory
Liberty post players Tolu Omotola and Ashley Rininger helped the Lady Flames bounce back from a Thursday evening loss to Presbyterian College. The duo combined for 36 points during the Lady Flames' 75-49 victory over UNC Asheville, Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center.
Omotola, who had shot only 2-of-12 from the field on Thursday, topped all players in both points (19) and rebounds (8) against UNC Asheville. Meanwhile, Rininger came off the Lady Flames' bench for a career-high 17 points and six rebounds.
Liberty is now 11-5 overall and 3-1 in Big South Conference action after posting its 12th straight win in the head-to-head series with Asheville. The Bulldogs drop to 2-13 on the season and 0-4 in conference play with their 16th consecutive loss to a Big South team and their 22nd straight road loss.
UNC Asheville did not make a field goal until Abra Sickles' layup at the 15:55 mark, enabling the Lady Flames to jump out to a 6-1 lead.
After the hoop by Sickles, Liberty scored seven straight points, culminating with a steal and fast-break layup from Devon Brown at 14:18. When the ball dropped through the net, the Lady Flames had their first double-digit lead of the contest, 13-3.
Shonese Jones hit back-to-back jumpers to pull black-clad Asheville within six, 13-7, before the Lady Flames' post players scored all of the points during Liberty's ensuing 12-1 run. Rininger's layup off of a nice feed from Emily Frazier at the 7:43 mark pushed the home team's lead to 25-8.
Jeannie Buckner and Grace Blaylock both hit triples within a 21-second span for the Bulldogs, trimming their deficit to 25-14, 6:24 before halftime.
That was as close as the visitors got for the remainder of the game. Liberty outscored Asheville by an 11-2 count during the rest of the period, building a 36-16 halftime cushion.
Liberty shot the ball well in the first half, making 50 percent (13-of-26) of its field goals. The Lady Flames also got to the foul line often, hitting 10 of their 16 attempts for 62.5 percent.
Conversely, the Bulldogs made only 37.5 percent (6-of-16) of their field goal tries and just 22.2 percent (2-of-9) of their foul shots before halftime.
Liberty outrebounded Asheville during the first half, 19-10, and scored 16 points off of 13 Bulldog turnovers.
Omotola led all players with 11 first-half points, while Blaylock was the Bulldogs' scoring leader with five points.
The Lady Flames opened the second half with a 9-0 run, finishing off an overall 20-2 surge on Frazier's nifty over-the-head layup. Her hoop with 17:19 left made the score 45-16 in favor of Liberty.
Liberty's advantage still stood at 29 points before Asheville fashioned a 12-1 run. Paige Love's three-pointer from the right wing swished through the net at 8:22, pulling her team to within 56-38.
Reagan Miller countered with a three-pointer of her own on Liberty's next trip to the offensive end, and the Lady Flames' lead stayed above 20 points the rest of the afternoon. The 75-49 victory continued Liberty's string of avoiding back-to-back Big South losses. The Lady Flames have not lost consecutive conference games since Feb. 20 and 22, 1997.
For the game, Liberty shot 49.1 percent (27-of-55), as compared with 39.1 percent (18-of-46) for the visitors.
The Lady Flames controlled the area around the basket, winning the rebounding battle (42-23) and points in the paint category (40-14) decisively.
Liberty's 12 turnovers tied a season low, while the Lady Flames tallied 23 points off of 17 Asheville miscues. Rininger helped the Lady Flames post a 32-11 edge in bench points on the day.
Omotola's eight boards moved the redshirt senior into 20th place on Liberty's all-time list with 530 career rebounds.
Rininger improved upon her previous career scoring high of 10 points from the Grambling State contest on Nov. 16.
Brown chipped in 15 points in just 18 minutes of playing time, climbing into 11th place in on the Big South's all-time scoring list. She has now totaled 1,725 career points.
Jones finished as Asheville's leading scorer, with 13 of her 17 points coming during the second half. Blaylock joined her in double figures with 10 points, as the backcourt combo totaled five three-pointers between them.
Liberty will now prepare for its annual South Carolina "beach trip." The two-game swing through the Palmetto State will begin Thursday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames visit Charleston Southern (5-7, 0-3 Big South).
UNC Asheville will return home for its next three games. The homestand will begin on Thursday against Winthrop. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Kimmel Arena.