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Liberty Defeats Radford for Win No. 20
|Jasmine Gardner scored 13 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds during Liberty's 69-60 win over Radford.|
Four Liberty players scored in double figures Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center, helping the Lady Flames post a 69-60 victory over Radford. The home team's seventh consecutive triumph enabled Liberty to reach the 20-win mark for the sixth consecutive season.
Now 20-6 overall and 12-2 in Big South play, the conference-leading Lady Flames became the first team to clinch a bye into the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
Radford falls to 13-11 overall and 8-7 in the Big South despite ending Liberty's string of 20 straight games winning the rebounding the battle. The Highlanders finished with 43 boards to the Lady Flames' 36.
Liberty used an early 6-0 run to take a 12-8 advantage. Ashley Rininger capped off the home team's surge with a layup at the 14:25 mark.
Radford came back with five straight points, going in front by a 13-12 count when Sarah Tabb hit a pair of free throws at 12:07.
Rininger hit a putback layup with 10:21 left in the half, reclaiming the advantage for the Lady Flames at 14-13. Liberty did not trail again until Ashley Buckhannon's three-pointer tickled the twine 2:05 before halftime, giving the Highlanders a 29-27 edge.
Katelyn Adams answered with a layup on Liberty's next possession and the score remained tied at 29-all heading into halftime. The see-saw opening half saw eight ties and four lead changes.
Liberty shot just 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the field in the first half, misfiring on all eight of its three-point tries. Radford finished the half at 37.5 percent (12-of-32) field goal shooting.
The Lady Flames doubled up the Highlanders in points in the paint (20-10) during the first 20 minutes, but Radford owned a slim 23-22 rebounding edge.
Rininger led all players with eight first-half points off the Liberty bench, while Jasmine Gardner paced the Lady Flames with five boards.
Buckhannon, Tabb and Victoria Hamilton scored six points apiece for Radford before halftime. Teammate Jordynn Gaymon topped all players with seven boards.
Tolu Omotola canned a layup on Liberty's opening possession of the second half, off of a nice feed from Devon Brown. The basket gave the Lady Flames a 31-29 lead, and the home team did not trail again the rest of the way.
Radford knotted the score up at 34-34 on Buckhannon's jump shot with 16:11 left. Liberty then opened up some separation with a 13-2 run. A driving right-handed layup by Emily Frazier put the Lady Flames on top, 47-36, with 9:50 on the second-half clock.
The red-clad Highlanders chipped away at their deficit and got within eight points three times in the next 3:18. A layup by La-She' Walker made the score 54-46 before back-to-back triples by LaKendra Washington pushed the Liberty lead back to 14 (60-46) with 5:55 to play.
Radford made one more furious comeback attempt during the closing minutes and was able to make it a two-possession game (64-58) with 46 seconds left after Hamilton scored five straight points by herself.
However, Liberty was able to wrap up a regular-season sweep of the Highlanders by making five of its six free throw attempts during the final 44 seconds to close out a 69-60 triumph.
The Lady Flames shot 52 percent (13-of-25) from the field after halftime to finish the game at 41.4 percent (24-of-58). Liberty made 78.3 percent (18-of-23) of its free throws for the contest.
Radford finished the afternoon at 36.7 percent (22-of-60) field goal shooting and 66.7 percent (14-of-21) from the charity stripe.
Even through Liberty was defeated on the boards and second-chance points (19-10), the Lady Flames defeated Radford in points in the paint (36-24), points off turnovers (18-8) and bench points (24-8).
Rininger finished with a team-high 14 points and four blocked shots for the Lady Flames, while also grabbing six boards.
Brown, Gardner and Omotola joined Rininger in double figures with 13 points apiece. Brown's tallies give her 1,869 career points, good for sixth place on the Big South all-time scoring list. Eleven of the Waynesboro, Va., native's points came during the second half.
Gardner's 13 points were the most the junior has scored since she also posted 13 markers at Charleston Southern on Jan. 10. She also corralled a team-high seven rebounds.
Omotola scored in double figures for the ninth consecutive game, which is a career-long streak.
Radford's Buckhannon was the leading scorer in the game, totaling 16 points and three steals.
Hamilton just missed a double-double, posting 13 points and a game-best nine boards for the Highlanders.
Tabb made it three Radford players in double figures, totaling a dozen points.
Saturday's game was Liberty's annual Play 4Kay contest, in support of breast cancer awareness. The Lady Flames sported pink warmup t-shirts, pink headbands and pink socks for the occasion.
Liberty will begin its final regular-season road swing Thursday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to UNC Asheville. The Lady Flames posted a 75-49 victory over the Bulldogs on Jan. 5 at the Vines Center.
Meanwhile, Radford will prepare for its last road game of the regular season, next Saturday at Winthrop. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. inside the Winthrop Coliseum.