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Liberty Roars Back to Win at High Point, 67-59
Liberty trailed host High Point by 15 points at halftime of Saturday afternoon's contest at the Millis Center before roaring back during the final 20 minutes. The Lady Flames opened the second half with a 25-4 run, sending them on their way to a 67-59 triumph.
Liberty had not overcome a deficit of 15 points or more to win since Nov. 21, 2009. That day, the Lady Flames recorded a 55-43 win at Navy after trailing by 16 points during the first half.
Tolu Omotola spearheaded the furious comeback, with 17 of her game-high 22 points and nine of her team-leading 12 rebounds coming after halftime.
Liberty improves to 17-6 overall and 9-2 in Big South action with its eighth consecutive road win overall and its seventh straight triumph over High Point at the Millis Center. The Lady Flames remain tied with Winthrop for first place in the conference standings.
High Point falls to 12-9 overall and 6-4 in the Big South with its second consecutive home loss. The Panthers lost in spite of a season-high 20 points from Tayler Tremblay and a 17-point, 12-rebound, six-block performance by Cheyenne Parker.
Liberty's first nine points of the game came on a trio of made three-pointers, including a Devon Brown connection from the right wing that put the Lady Flames in front, 9-7, at 15:41.
Later in the half, Tremblay scored the first five points of a 13-2 High Point run that gave the Panthers their first double digit lead of the game. Lexi Patterson made a layup off of an inbounds pass at the 6:52 mark to end the surge with the Panthers on top, 28-16.
Liberty cut the deficit to nine points three times, before a 6-0 half-ending run by the homestanding Panthers. Tremblay made two baskets within the final minute, sending her team into intermission with a 38-23 advantage.
High Point shot 59.3 percent (16-of-27) from the field in the first half, as compared with just 21.6 percent (8-of-37) for the Lady Flames. Half of Liberty's made field goals came from three-point range.
The Panthers outrebounded Liberty during the first half, 21-20, and blocked seven Lady Flame shots.
Brown led the Lady Flames with nine first-half points, with all of her tallies coming from beyond the three-point arc.
Tremblay and Parker each tallied 13 points before halftime for High Point, with Parker adding nine boards and three blocked shots.
Liberty kept High Point scoreless for the first 3:55 of the second half, outscoring the Panthers 7-0 during that time. Omotola split a pair of free throws at 16:27, bringing the Lady Flames within 38-30.
The Panthers pushed their advantage back up to a dozen points, before back-to-back three-point plays by Omotola kick-started an 18-0 Liberty burst. Yet another three-point play from Omotola, this one coming with 11:45 to play, put the Lady Flames in front by a 48-42 count.
High Point bounced back with seven straight points, retaking the lead at 49-48 when Jazmin Cromartie turned a nice feed from Parker into a layup, with 9:30 showing on the clock.
Liberty then fashioned a 7-0 surge of its own, bookended by a pair of Ashley Rininger layups. Her second hoop, which fell through the net at the 6:58 mark, gave the Lady Flames a 55-49 advantage.
Tremblay halved her team's deficit with a three-pointer on the Panthers' next trip to the offensive end. But that was as close as the home team got, as Liberty held High Point to three made field goals the rest of the way in securing the road victory.
The Lady Flames sealed their improbable comeback victory by making six of eight free throw attempts in the last 2:37. Liberty's 67-59 triumph marked the sixth straight time the road team has won during the head-to-head series between the Lady Flames and Panthers.
Liberty's field goal shooting improved to 46.9 percent (15-of-32) after halftime, giving the Lady Flames a percentage of 33.3 percent (23-of-69) for the game.
The Lady Flames clamped down defensively after halftime, limiting High Point to 24.1 percent (7-of-29) from the field and forcing nine turnovers. The Panthers' field goal percentage for the contest ended up at 41.1 percent (23-of-56).
Liberty won the battle of the paint after halftime as well, outrebounding High Point 27-15 and tallying 35 of its 44 points either inside the paint or at the foul line.
The Lady Flames outrebounded their 18th consecutive opponent, ending the afternoon with a 47-36 advantage on the glass. More than half (24) of Liberty's boards came at the offensive end.
Omotola's sixth double-double of the season saw her move into a tie for 10th place on Liberty's career rebounding list with Sharon Freet with 590 caroms.
Brown hit four triples during a 16-point effort, climbing into eighth place on the Big South career scoring chart. The redshirt senior has now tallied 1,828 career points.
Brittany Campbell was also successful from long range, making all three of her three-point tries as part of an 11-point, six-rebound outing.
Rininger played an important role during the second-half run, tallying seven of her 11 points and pulling down seven of her eight rebounds after the break. The Buckeye State native has scored in double digits in seven of her last eight games.
Emily Frazier contributed seven points, a career high-equaling six rebounds, a game-high 10 assists and two steals in 37 minutes of work at the point guard position.
After Tremblay and Parker, High Point's next highest scorer was Stacia Robertson, who contributed eight points, six rebounds, three steals and a pair of rejections.
Liberty will wrap up its three-game road swing next Saturday at Longwood, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m. at Willett Hall. The Lady Flames defeated the Lancers by a 91-58 score at the Vines Center on Jan. 26.
High Point's next game will also be played at Longwood. The Panthers and Lancers will square off Thursday at 7 p.m.