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Liberty Races Past Longwood, 91-58
Liberty redshirt sophomore Emily Frazier set the table for an impressive offensive performance by the Lady Flames, dishing out a career-high 13 assists on Saturday against Longwood. Four of her teammates scored in double figures as Liberty raced past the Lancers, 91-58.
Devon Brown paced all players with 21 points during Liberty's first-ever Big South Conference matchup against the Lancers. Fellow redshirt senior Brittany Campbell chipped in a career-high 19 points, as Liberty moved back into a share of first place in the Big South Conference standings.
Liberty, which is now 15-6 overall and 7-2 in the Big South, is tied for first place with Presbyterian College and Winthrop at the halfway mark of the 18-game conference schedule. Longwood, which entered the week as the conference leader, drops to 9-11 overall and 6-3 in conference action with its second straight loss.
Mieke Elkington swished a pair of three-pointers during the first 2:08 of the game, helping the Lancers jump out to a quick 8-2 lead.
Longwood's advantage reached 16-8 at 14:21, when Elkington canned another triple.
Liberty then took its first lead of the game during an ensuing 14-0 run. Ashley Rininger scored six points during the surge, including a layup at the 9:11 mark that put the Lady Flames in front, 22-16.
A no-look pass from Reagan Miller that led to an uncontested layup for Brown pushed the Lady Flames' edge to seven points (26-19).
The blue-clad Lancers battled back, making it a one-possession game (28-25) at the 5:52 mark, when Chelsea Coward split a pair of free throws.
That was Longwood's final point of the half, as Liberty ended the period on a 12-0 run. Frazier drained a three-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded, giving the Lady Flames a 40-25 halftime cushion.
Liberty used two of head coach Carey Green's staples (defense and rebounding) to build its halftime edge, holding the Lancers to 25 percent (8-of-32) field goal shooting and outrebounding the visitors, 34-16.
The Lady Flames, who shot 41 percent (16-of-39) from the floor in the first half, scored more than half of their points (22) in the paint.
Campbell led all players with 11 first-half points, while Rininger came off the bench for 10 points and eight rebounds. Tolu Omotola also collected eight boards during the opening 20 minutes and Frazier tallied seven assists.
Elkington's nine points paced Longwood in the first half, while Erin Neal topped the Lancers with four rebounds.
Liberty's overall run reached 24-2 at the 16:18 mark of the second half, when Omotola hit a layup off of a pass from Brown. Her connection gave the Lady Flames a 52-27 lead.
Longwood has come back from a halftime deficit to win seven times this season, but the Lancers could not do so on Saturday. Longwood did use an 11-0 run to trim a 68-38 deficit to 68-49 with 7:16 left, but it was too little, too late.
Longwood got no closer, and Liberty's 33-point margin of victory was its largest lead of the game. The Lady Flames' 91-58 win marked their seventh straight triumph in the head-to-head series against the Lancers.
Liberty squelched Longwood's hopes of a comeback by shooting 60.6 percent (20-of-33) from the field during the final 20 minutes and making all seven of its foul shots. For the game, the Lady Flames ended at 50 percent (36-of-72) from the floor and 80 percent (12-of-15) from the charity stripe.
Meanwhile, Liberty's defense limited Longwood to 30.3 percent (20-of-66) field goal shooting for the game.
The Lady Flames converted their significant size advantage into a 56-30 rebounding advantage and a 52-16 bulge in points in the paint.
Frazier's 13 assists were the most by a Lady Flame since Kristi Mercer totaled 13 helpers against UNCG on Feb. 16, 1989, before Frazier was born. She helped Liberty total a season-high 29 assists on the day.
Brown scored 15 of her 21 points after halftime, leaving her just five tallies shy of 1,800 for her career.
Campbell had never scored in double figures at the Vines Center before Saturday's outburst. She made four of her five three-point tries during her 19-point day.
Rininger's second career double-double consisted of 16 points and a career high-equaling 12 rebounds. Jasmine Gardner also grabbed a dozen boards, tying her season high and becoming one of Liberty's top 50 career rebounders in the process. The junior has now totaled 316 career caroms.
Omotola just missed a double-double of her own, recording 15 points and nine boards. She became the 23rd Lady Flame ever to score 800 career points, reaching the milestone on Saturday.
Three Lancers scored in double digits, led by Elkington's season-high 15 points. Coward contributed a dozen points, while Daeisha Brown finished with 11 tallies.
Liberty will play its next three games on the road, beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. when the Lady Flames travel to Campbell (13-7, 5-4 Big South). Liberty won its first meeting with the Lady Camels this season, 65-58, Jan. 19 at the Vines Center.
Longwood will continue a four-game road swing on Thursday with a contest at Coastal Carolina (8-12, 3-7 Big South). The Lancers' first-ever visit to The HTC Center will tip off at 7 p.m.