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Liberty Posts Program-Best 11th Straight Road Win
Liberty won a defensive struggle at Gardner-Webb by a 55-40 count Saturday afternoon, establishing a new program record with its 11th consecutive road victory. The win also clinched at least a share of the Lady Flames' 14th Big South regular-season title in the last 16 seasons.
Liberty, which has not lost a road contest since Nov. 23 at Baylor, limited the Runnin' Bulldogs to 21.7 percent (13-of-60) field goal shooting and 11.8 percent (2-of-17) from behind the three-point arc. As a result, Gardner-Webb managed a season-low 40 points.
The Lady Flames, who have now won nine straight games overall, improve to 22-6 overall and 14-2 in the Big South. Liberty finishes with a perfect 9-0 record in Big South road tilts this season.
Gardner-Webb did a fine defensive job of its own, limiting Liberty to 27.7 percent (13-of-47) from the field. However, the Runnin' Bulldogs drop to 12-15 overall and 5-11 in the Big South.
Liberty held Gardner-Webb without a point for the first 6:00 of the game, opening up a 13-0 lead which it never relinquished.
A three-pointer by Mayhana Dunovant and a jumper by Tabby Koerner broke the ice for the Runnin' Bulldogs, pulling the home team to within 13-5 at the 12:10 mark of the opening half.
Back-to-back triples by Brittany Campbell and Reagan Miller then kick-started a 12-0 Lady Flames run, which also featured six made free throws. A pair of Jasmine Gardner foul shots at 4:40 gave Liberty a 25-5 advantage.
Gardner-Webb closed the opening half on a 6-2 run, trimming the halftime deficit to 29-13 on Lana Doran's jumper as time expired.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball from the field before halftime, with Liberty shooting 38.1 percent (8-of-21) and Gardner-Webb making 22.2 percent (6-of-27) of its field goals. However, Liberty had a sizeable advantage at the free throw line, going 9-of-12 to the Runnin' Bulldogs' 0-of-2.
The Lady Flames outrebounded the home team in the first half, 21-15, and forced 14 Gardner-Webb turnovers.
Miller led all players with 10 points in the first half, while Campbell chipped in seven markers. Gardner grabbed a half-high six rebounds for the Lady Flames.
Freshman Candace Brown was Gardner-Webb's top player of the opening 20 minutes, totaling four points, three rebounds and three assists.
Led by Tolu Omotola's five points, Liberty began the second half with a 10-0 surge. Omotola's free throw at the 16:11 mark extended the Lady Flames' advantage to 39-13.
Jessica Heilig highlighted Gardner-Webb's ensuing 10-0 run with seven points. The post player's two free throws with 13:34 to play made the score 39-23, Liberty.
Devon Brown, who had only scored one point at that stage of the game, recorded five straight Liberty points shortly thereafter, helping slow the Runnin' Bulldogs' momentum. Brown's mid-range jumper made the score 49-27 at the 7:53 mark.
Liberty's advantage still stood at 22 points (53-31) before Gardner-Webb made one last run. Alicia Quinn made consecutive hoops to close out a 9-0 run, trimming the gap to 53-40 with 1:41 left on the clock.
However, those were the Runnin' Bulldogs' final points of the day as Liberty closed out a 55-40 victory in its final road game of the 2012-13 regular season.
Liberty made only five of its 26 second-half field goal attempts for 19.2 percent but connected on 15 of its 25 free throws (60 percent) to maintain its scoring advantage.
In a matchup of the top two rebounding teams in the Big South, the Lady Flames finished with a 49-43 edge on the boards. Liberty also blocked nine shots on the day.
Miller paced all players with a season-high 13 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Campbell added three triples as part of a 10-point afternoon.
Brown just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds but was able to climb another spot on the Liberty and Big South all-time scoring lists. The redshirt senior passed Megan Frazee for second place in program history and fifth place in conference history, ending the day with 1,891 career points.
For the first time in 11 games, Omotola failed to score in double figures, ending up with nine points and five boards. She did move up to 15th place in program history with 914 career points and eighth place all-time at Liberty with 627 rebounds.
Gardner and Katelyn Adams shared game-high rebounding honors with Brown, collecting nine rebounds each. Adams added a career-high five blocked shots during her 19 minutes of action.
Heilig finished as Gardner-Webb's top scorer, with all 11 of her points coming after halftime. Quinn contributed a team-best seven rebounds.
Liberty will return home for its final two games of the regular season, starting with a Thursday evening matchup with Coastal Carolina. The Lady Flames will be going for their 40th consecutive victory over the Chanticleers, starting at 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center.
Meanwhile, Gardner-Webb will take to the road on Thursday, traveling to Winthrop for a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Winthrop Coliseum.