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Liberty Clinches No. 1 Seed with Win Over Coastal

February 28, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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A dominating defensive performance and rebounding effort sparked Liberty to a 68-31 victory over Coastal Carolina, Thursday evening at the Vines Center. The win clinched the Lady Flames' 14th Big South Conference regular-season title in the last 16 years and the No. 1 seed for next week's Big South Women's Basketball Championship.

The Chanticleers' 31 points were the fewest Liberty has allowed in a game this season, and the Lady Flames also enjoyed a season-best +36 rebound margin on the night (53-17).

Now 23-6 overall and 15-2 in the Big South, Liberty has won 10 consecutive games overall and 40 straight matchups against the Chanticleers.

Coastal Carolina, which had won six of its last seven games prior to Thursday's contest, falls to 13-14 overall and 8-9 in conference play.

The lead changed hands three times during the game's first four minutes. Liberty ended the back-and-forth sequence with an 8-6 edge, thanks in large part to six early points by Devon Brown.

An old-fashioned three-point play by Brown kick-started a 10-0 run by the Lady Flames. Katelyn Adams connected on a pair of free throws at the 9:49 mark, closing out the surge with Liberty owning a 15-6 advantage.

During that time, the Chanticleers went 7:23 without a point before Shatia Cole ended the visitors' drought with a three-pointer, 9:23 before halftime.

The Lady Flames then scored the next five points, taking their first double-digit lead (20-9) at 7:14 on two Tolu Omotola foul shots.

The two teams traded hoops during the next two and a half minutes before Liberty closed the opening stanza with a 7-0 surge, taking a 31-15 advantage into halftime.

Liberty shot only 34.4 percent (11-of-32) during the first half, with Coastal Carolina making just 31.8 percent (7-of-22) of its field goals.

The Lady Flames gained their lead by dominating the rebound (27-9), points in the paint (14-6) and second-chance points (13-3) categories in the opening half.

Angelica Henry got the Chanticleers started off on the right foot after the intermission, making a three-pointer on Coastal Carolina's first possession to trim the deficit to 13 points (31-18).

However, Liberty tallied 10 of the next 12 points, with six of the tallies coming from the charity stripe. Brittany Campbell made both of her free throws with 15:20 left, extending the Lady Flames' lead to 41-20.

The two teams traded hoops until another lengthy scoreless stretch by the Chanticleers. Liberty held Coastal Carolina without a point for 9:10, outscoring the visitors by a 16-0 count to build a 37-point (61-24) cushion with 4:20 remaining on the clock.

That was the Lady Flames' margin of victory as they closed out a 68-31 triumph.

Liberty shot the ball better during the final 20 minutes, making 50 percent (12-of-24) of its field goals to finish the contest at 41.1 percent (23-of-56). The Lady Flames also connected on 18 of 22 free throws for 81.8 percent, while the Chanticleers missed their only two foul shots of the game.

Coastal Carolina was limited to 29.2 percent (14-of-48) field goal shooting and 17.6 percent (3-of-17) from beyond the three-point arc.

The Lady Flames enjoyed considerable advantages in points in the paint (34-12), points off turnovers (21-7), second-chance points (22-3) and bench points (24-2).

Brown scored 15 of her game-high 17 points during the first half, moving into fourth place on the Big South all-time scoring list with 1,908 career points. She added eight rebounds and four steals in just 23 minutes.

Post players Jasmine Gardner and Adams chipped in 10 points apiece, while Ashley Rininger tied Brown for game-high honors with eight boards.

Sadalia Ellis played a career-high 23 minutes at backup point guard for the Lady Flames and made the most of her minutes, going for eight points, four rebounds and a game-high four assists.

AJ Jordan was the lone Chanticleer to reach double figures with 10 points, while teammate Angelica Henry notched all eight of her points after halftime.

Liberty will close out the 2012-13 regular season Saturday at 2 p.m., when Charleston Southern visits the Vines Center for Senior Day. Seniors Devon Brown, Brittany Campbell, Terika Lunsford, Tolu Omotola and LaKendra Washington will be recognized prior to tipoff.

Coastal Carolina will remain on the road for its final regular-season title, heading to High Point on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. inside the Millis Center.