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Liberty Wins Fourth Straight Despite Cold Shooting Night
The Lady Flames are now 14-8 overall and 6-1 in Big South Conference action. Liberty holds a one-half game lead over High Point atop the conference standings after improving its all-time record against Birmingham-Southern to 12-0.
The Panthers' fifth-consecutive setback drops their overall record to 6-16. Birmingham-Southern is 1-6 at the halfway mark of its final season in the Big South.
Liberty tallied the first six points of the contest, the final four of which came courtesy of Megan Frazee. The sophomore's jumper from the corner at the 16:59 mark capped the game-opening run and lifted the Lady Flames to a 6-0 advantage.
The Panthers made just three of their first 16 field goals and turned the ball over six times in the first eight minutes. However, the visitors took their first lead, 10-9, on a Muneca Oliver lay-up at 10:12. Birmingham-Southern's 8-0 run started with a pair of three-pointers by Britni Ballard.
The Lady Flames responded with an 8-2 surge, reclaiming the lead. Rebecca Lightfoot finished the run, putting her team on top by a 17-12 count with a left-handed lay-up, 5:55 before halftime.
After a Mallory Morring triple for Birmingham-Southern closed the gap to two, Liberty put together a 9-2 run. Megan Frazee was the primary catalyst for the Lady Flames, scoring the final seven points of the surge, including a jumper with 2:36 remaining, which lifted Liberty to its largest lead of the half, 26-17.
The Panthers took some momentum into the locker room, tallying the half's final five markers. Morring's three-pointer with 29 seconds left, her team's fourth long-distance connection of the game, left the Birmingham-Southern halftime deficit at 26-22.
Both teams struggled mightily at the offensive end during the first 20 minutes of play. Liberty shot 32.3 percent (10-of-31) from the field, while Birmingham-Southern checked in at 25 percent (9-of-36).
Megan Frazee led all players with 11 points in the opening stanza. Lightfoot hauled in a team-best five rebounds, but the Lady Flames were outrebounded by a 26-24 margin. Thirteen of Liberty's 14 players played before halftime, and seven of them found the scoring column.
Hali Moore grabbed seven first-half boards for the visitors, including four of her team's 13 offensive caroms. Morring's eight points paced the Panthers, who recorded nine second-chance points in the first half.
Moore recorded the second half's initial points, a lay-up with 18:24 remaining in the contest which halved Liberty's advantage, to 26-24.
The Lady Flames rebuilt their edge to six, 30-24, on Jamie Feagin's lay-up at the 15:25 mark.
Morring continued her hot shooting from the first half, making back-to-back hoops for the Panthers. Her three-pointer from the corner with 13:05 left trimmed Liberty's lead to 30-29.
Consecutive conversions by the Lady Flames, the second of which was a Michelle Parker mid-range jumper, pushed the home team's edge back up to 34-29 at 11:52.
Liberty's advantage hovered around five points until the Lady Flames held the visitors scoreless for a 4:05 stretch. Liberty scored five markers during that time, taking a 41-33 lead on Karolina Piotrkiewicz's free throw with 7:42 showing on the second-half clock.
Birmingham-Southern was not done yet, though. The Panthers tossed in six of the game's next eight points, paring their deficit to 43-39 at 3:37, when Marisah Henderson split a pair of foul shots.
The Panthers would pull to within four points on two other occasions, including 48-44 when Ballard answered Rachel Hammond's triple with her fourth connection from behind the arc, at the 1:58 mark. Those were Birmingham-Southern's final points of the game, as the visitors missed their last three shot attempts.
For the second-straight game, Parker sealed the victory from the charity stripe. The senior point guard sank all four of her free throws in the final 36 seconds, making the final margin of victory 52-44. The Panthers had never lost to the Lady Flames by fewer than 10 points prior to Monday.
Liberty hung on for the win despite recording more than twice as many turnovers (17) as field goals (8) during the second half. The Lady Flames' defense came through, limiting Birmingham-Southern to 27 percent (17-of-63) field goal shooting. The Panthers became Liberty's sixth opponent in nine home games to score fewer than 50 points.
Frazee's double-double was her seventh of the season, but her first since a Dec. 19 loss against Texas-Arlington. Parker scored six of her eight points after halftime, to go along with four assists. She helped Liberty achieve a 24-5 advantage in bench points.
Lightfoot chipped in with seven boards. Her efforts enabled the Lady Flames to win the battle under the glass, 47-37.
Morring paced three Panthers in double figures, totaling 13 points. Ballard chipped in with a dozen markers, and Ross added 10 points, nine rebounds and five of the visitors' 15 steals. Moore brought down 10 rebounds to lead Birmingham-Southern.
Birmingham-Southern will return home for a Saturday afternoon contest against Charleston Southern. Tip-off at Bill Battle Coliseum is set for 3 p.m.
Liberty will now prepare for a Saturday matinee, as High Point, the only other one-loss team in the Big South, visits the Vines Center at 3:30 p.m. The game will be the back end of a doubleheader, which will open with a Flames men's basketball game versus Charleston Southern at 1 p.m.