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Second-Half Run Keys Lady Flames' Victory
|Devon Brown scored 14 of her 15 points during the second half of Liberty's 69-54 victory over Winthrop on Thursday, including this pull-up jumper with 3:04 left.|
Trailing 44-42 midway through the second half of Thursday evening's Big South Conference clash against Winthrop inside the Vines Center, Liberty took control of the game with a 16-2 run. The Lady Flames went on to close out a 69-54 victory over the Eagles in a matchup between the top two teams in the Big South standings.
Tolu Omotola paced the Lady Flames with 18 points, while Devon Brown scored 14 of her 15 points after halftime, helping Liberty extend its season-long winning streak to six games.
The Lady Flames, who have now won 21 consecutive meetings with Winthrop at the Vines Center, improve to 19-6 overall and 11-2 in the Big South. Liberty now owns a two-game lead atop the conference standings with five regular-season tilts remaining.
Winthrop drops to 15-10 overall and 9-4 in conference play despite a game-high 25 points and seven assists by Dequesha McClanahan. The Lady Eagles, who saw their six-game road winning streak halted on Thursday, have now lost back-to-back contests following an eight-game winning skein.
Winthrop hit two of its first four attempts from beyond the three-point arc, opening the game with a 6-2 advantage.
Liberty's first lead of the night came during a 9-2 run which got started by back-to-back triples from Emily Frazier and Brittany Campbell. An Omotola jump shot at the 12:36 mark ended the surge with the Lady Flames on top, 14-10.
After a McClanahan jumper cut the Eagles' deficit to two points, Liberty reeled off six straight markers. Omotola's layup off of a nice cross-lane feed from Reagan Miller gave the Lady Flames a 20-12 advantage 8:15 before halftime.
Winthrop bounced back with a 9-0 run, reclaiming the lead at 21-20 on McClanahan's perimeter jumper at 4:48.
Liberty scored five consecutive points, taking a 25-21 advantage at the 2:24 mark on a pair of made free throws by Campbell.
Taylor Calvert scored the half's final two points at the foul line for the Eagles, making the halftime score 25-23 in favor of the home team.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball during the first half, with Liberty making 30 percent (9-of-30) of its field goal tries and Winthrop countering at 25 percent (8-of-32).
Winthrop owned a 25-21 first-half rebounding advantage and scored 12 points off of eight Liberty turnovers.
Seniors Campbell and Omotola scored eight points apiece for the Lady Flames before halftime, with Omotola grabbing six rebounds.
McClanahan topped all scorers with 11 points before halftime, while Calvert pulled down a half-dozen boards.
The lead changed hands nine times during the first 6:40 of the second half, and Winthrop owned a 44-42 edge after McClanahan converted an Aliyah Kilpatrick steal into a fast break layup with 9:49 left.
Liberty then began its decisive 16-2 surge, which featured a pair of made triples by Miller. The sophomore's trifecta at the 6:15 mark gave the Lady Flames the lead for good at 47-44.
By the time the run ended with 2:08 left and Liberty owning a 58-46 cushion, Winthrop had begun fouling. However, the Lady Flames foiled that strategy, making 11-of-14 attempts from the charity stripe to close out the 69-54 win and a regular-season sweep of the Eagles.
The Lady Flames were efficient at the offensive end during the second half, making 55.6 percent (15-of-27) of their field goals and 78.6 percent (11-of-14) of their foul shots. Liberty also committed only three second-half turnovers, finishing the game with a season-low 11 miscues.
For the game, Liberty shot 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from the field and 77.8 percent (14-of-18) from the line. Winthrop ended up at 30.5 percent (18-of-59) on field goals and 76.9 percent (10-of-13) on free throws.
Liberty ended the contest with a 28-12 edge in points in the paint, a slim 40-39 rebounding advantage and a 16-7 margin in bench points. It was the Lady Flames' 20th straight game winning the rebounding battle and 10th straight time tallying more bench points than their opponents.
Omotola complemented her scoring output with eight rebounds and a game-high three blocked shots.
Brown collected eight boards of her own on a night where she passed Katie Feenstra for third place on Liberty's career scoring list and seventh place in Big South history. The Waynesboro, Va., native's 15 points against Winthrop give her 1,856 career markers.
Campbell scored in double figures for the third time in the last five games, making two triples as part of a 10-point effort. She also dished out a career high-equaling five assists to lead the Lady Flames in that category.
Frazier and Rininger added eight points each for Liberty, with Frazier distributing four assists and Rininger pulling down six caroms.
McClanahan's 25-point output marked her second big game against the Lady Flames this season. The junior guard went for a season-high 27 points during the teams' meeting at the Winthrop Coliseum on Dec. 29. With her Thursday output, McClanahan went over the 1,500-point mark for her career, finishing the evening with 1,511 career points.
Diana Choibekova contributed a dozen points for Winthrop, with all of her points coming on four three-pointers. She also topped all players with nine rebounds.
Liberty will play at home again on Saturday, tipping off at 3 p.m. against Radford. The contest, which will air live on ESPN3, will be the Lady Flames' annual Play 4Kay game, in support of breast cancer awareness.
The Lady Flames-Highlanders tilt will also mark the first half of a Saturday basketball doubleheader at the Vines Center. Liberty's men's basketball team will host High Point, with tipoff slated for 6 p.m.
Winthrop will play its final road game of the 2012-13 regular season on Saturday, when the Eagles travel to High Point. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. inside the Millis Center.