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High Point Posts 71-63 Win at Liberty
For the second consecutive year, High Point recorded a victory over Liberty at the Vines Center. Kendra Wallace's season-high 18 points paced four Panthers in double digits as High Point came away with a 71-63 win on a snowy Thursday evening in Lynchburg.
High Point, which never trailed in a rematch of the 2012 Big South Championship title contest, improves to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in Big South Play. The Panthers are the first Big South team to defeat the Lady Flames at the Vines Center in back-to-back seasons since UNCG did so four straight times between 1993-94 and 1996-97.
Despite a game-high 19 points by Tolu Omotola and a season-best 12 tallies from Reagan Miller, Liberty drops to 13-6 overall and 5-2 in Big South action.
Cheyenne Parker scored the game's first four points, kick-starting a 7-0 High Point run to open the contest.
The Panthers' lead reached eight (12-4) when Stacia Robertson swished a three-pointer at the 16:11 mark.
Liberty held High Point to two points during the next 4:25, trimming the deficit to 14-12 with an 8-2 surge.
But the purple-clad Panthers answered with an 8-2 spurt of their own, pushing their advantage to eight, 22-14, on Tabitha Fudge's driving left-handed layup 9:09 before halftime.
Liberty gradually chipped away at its deficit and made it 29-27 on Reagan Miller's three-pointer at the 4:18 mark.
High Point tallied the next eight markers, taking its first double-digit advantage (37-27) when Tayler Tremblay canned a pair of free throws at 1:50.
Miller then made another triple at the 22-second mark, making the halftime score 37-30 in favor of the visiting Panthers.
High Point shot 43.3 percent (13-of-30) from the field during the first half, while Liberty hit only 27 percent (10-of-37) of its first-half field goal attempts. The Lady Flames stayed within striking distance by connecting on all eight of their free throw tries before the break.
The Panthers owned a slim 25-23 rebounding cushion in the first half, while Liberty posted 13 second-chance points.
Miller, Omotola and Devon Brown scored eight points each for the Lady Flames before halftime, with Jasmine Gardner grabbing five boards.
Parker's 11 points for High Point paced all players during the first 20 minutes and teammate Tremblay grabbed a half-best seven rebounds.
High Point's lead still stood at seven (39-32) before the Lady Flames knotted the score with a 10-3 run. Back-to-back layups by Gardner punctuated the surge, including one at 14:27 which made the score 42-all.
Robertson broke the tie with a layup of her own just 12 seconds later, initiating a 10-0 High Point run. Tremblay's triple from right in front of the Panther bench provided High Point with a 52-42 edge with 12:35 on the second-half clock.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Katelyn Adams at 9:26 trimmed the gap to 55-51.
As the Panthers did for most of the game, they countered with a surge of their own. Fudge's layup at 7:34 capped a 5-1 burst and bolstered High Point's lead to 60-52.
Liberty got within four points on three occasions down the stretch, including at 64-60 when Brown made two foul shots at 2:04.
On the Panthers' ensuing possession, Wallace nailed a perimeter jumper as she was fouled. The younger sister of former Liberty baseball pitcher Doug Wallace successfully completed the three-point play with 1:36 left and the Lady Flames got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
High Point was able to bounce back from a Saturday loss at Campbell with an eight-point (71-63) victory.
Liberty struggled shooting the basketball the entire evening against High Point's aggressive defense, finishing at 31.7 percent (19-of-60) from the field and 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from three-point range. On the flip side, High Point made 44.4 percent (24-of-54) of its field goals and 45.5 percent (5-of-11) of its three-pointers.
The Lady Flames shot well from the foul line, making their first 19 charity tosses of the night on their way to a 23-of-27 (85.2 percent) performance.
Liberty owned a slight 42-39 rebounding edge, but High Point, the nation's leader in blocked shots, rejected seven attempts on Thursday.
Omotola scored 11 of her 19 points during the second half, while fellow starting post player Gardner topped the Lady Flames with seven rebounds.
Brown hit only two of her 17 field goal attempts but connected on 11 of 12 free throws during a 15-point, six-rebound, three-steal game. The redshirt senior became the seventh Lady Flame ever to grab 700 career boards.
Miller's dozen points included Liberty's only two made three-pointers of the evening.
For High Point, Wallace's 18 points featured a trio of three-pointers. Tremblay chipped in 16 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.
Robertson (13 points) and Parker (11 points) also reached double digits for the victors. The Big South's leading scorer on the season, Parker added six rebounds and four blocked shots.
Thursday's game was played two hours earlier than originally scheduled, due to heavy snowfall in the Lynchburg area, with tipoff bumped up to 5 p.m.
Liberty head coach Carey Green missed the first game of his 14-year career with the Lady Flames due to illness. Assistant coach Alexis Sherard coached the team in his absence.
Liberty will play host to Campbell Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center. The matinee is set to tip off at 2 p.m.
High Point will not play again for a week. The Panthers' next contest, slated for Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. versus Longwood, will begin a three-game homestand at the Millis Center.