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Sellars Shoots High Point Past Lady Flames and Into First Place
The victory, High Point's sixth-consecutive triumph, improves the Panthers' overall record to 14-8. High Point now sits atop the Big South standings by itself, having won seven of its first eight conference tilts. The Panthers became the first Big South team to sweep the season series from Liberty since UNC Greensboro did so during the 1996-97 season.
Liberty, which had won four-straight contests since losing an overtime game at High Point on Jan. 20, falls to 14-9 overall and 6-2 in conference action. The Lady Flames are tied with Radford for second place, one game behind High Point, after losing a seven-point second-half lead.
Liberty missed its first four field goal attempts of the game, before Roli-Ann Nikagbatse sank a three-pointer from the corner at the 16:06 mark to cut High Point's lead to 9-6.
In the meantime, Sellars had lifted the visiting Panthers to an early, 9-3 advantage with a trio of three-pointers in the first 3:30 of play.
The Lady Flames reclaimed the lead at 10-9, 14:26 before the intermission, when Allyson Fasnacht connected on a driving lay-up to cap a 7-0 Liberty surge.
Ashlee Samuels' basket with 11:44 showing on the first-half clock finished a run of six-consecutive points for High Point, giving her team a 17-12 advantage.
The visitors' lead hovered around five points until the Panthers went scoreless for 4:09, after a long three-pointer by Ayonna Thompson had pushed High Point's edge to 24-20 at 8:57.
Liberty ran off nine-straight points in the interim, five of which came from Moriah Frazee. The sophomore forward scored 11 out of 15 markers for Liberty during one stretch of the opening half.
Rebecca Lightfoot's short baseline jumper 7:25 before the intermission wrapped up the run and gave the Lady Flames a 29-24 lead.
Liberty remained on top for the rest of the half, although its lead was cut to two after Caitlin Thys' tip-in at 1:16.
Fasnacht then split a pair of free throws with 16.5 seconds left to push the Lady Flames' halftime advantage to 33-30.
Liberty led after 20 minutes of play despite shooting just 32.3 percent (10-of-31) from the field. The home team grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and owned a 30-12 rebounding edge prior to the intermission, aided by Megan Frazee's 10 caroms.
Moriah Frazee paced the Lady Flames with a dozen points off the bench during the opening stanza. She also connected on two-of-three first-half charity tosses, part of Liberty's 12-for-17 team effort. High Point got to the line only four times before the half, sinking two of them.
Sellars highlighted the Panthers' offensive attack in the first half, scoring exactly half of her squad's points, on six-of-nine shooting. She had scored 21 markers during the first contest against Liberty. Samuels hauled in three rebounds to lead High Point.
The Lady Flames scored five of the second half's first six points, taking their largest lead up to that point, 38-31, on Nikagbatse's three-pointer from the wing with 17:37 remaining in the contest.
High Point notched six of the next eight points, cutting its deficit to 40-37 on Katie Ralls' second-consecutive hoop, a high-arcing mid-range jumper at the 14:42 mark.
Liberty rebuilt its lead to six before the Panthers initiated another run. High Point crafted an 8-0 surge and went ahead, 47-45, with 10:30 left on a Thys jumper. Samuels hit two shots during the run.
After a Courtney Watkins putback, the Panthers ran off another seven-straight markers. Their lead was 54-47 after Amber Manuel connected on a lay-up at 7:11.
The Lady Flames trimmed the deficit to three points on two occasions, including 56-53 after a pair of Moriah Frazee foul shots with 5:01 to play.
Two three-pointers by Sellars, her fifth and sixth of the afternoon, enabled High Point to build its advantage to 62-55 with 3:08 on the second-half clock.
Back-to-back field goals by Megan Frazee, the latter of which came at the 1:54 mark, made it a one-possession game once again, 62-59.
Ralls, who hit the game-winning shot in overtime in the teams' contest at High Point, then nailed a clutch three-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire. Her triple gave the Panthers a 65-59 lead with only 36 seconds left.
Ralls then put the game away with two free throws after Liberty misfired on a pair of three-point attempts.
Megan Frazee finished the scoring with a tip-in, two seconds before the final buzzer, but the Lady Flames saw their six-game home winning streak halted, 67-61.
Liberty is now 75-3 in its last 78 February games, with all three setbacks coming at the hands of the Panthers. High Point has now taken four of the teams' most recent six meetings.
The Panthers were able to outscore Liberty by nine points in the second half by shooting 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the field and forcing 12 turnovers by the Lady Flames.
Samuels was the only Panther to reach double figures, but Ralls and Manuel added nine markers apiece for the victors. Leslie Cook added five assists.
Liberty fell despite controlling the boards by a 48-25 margin. Megan Frazee had a game-high 13 rebounds to complement her 17 points, as she posted her second-straight double-double and her eighth of the season.
Moriah Frazee chipped in with a season-high 18 points and matched her season best with seven caroms. Lightfoot reached double figures for the third time in the last four games, totaling 11 points.
For the second-straight outing, the Lady Flames struggled with their field goal shooting. Liberty sank just 35.7 percent (20-of-56) of its field goal attempts in the game.
High Point will remain in the Commonwealth of Virginia for a Tuesday contest at the Dedmon Center against Radford. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
The Lady Flames will take to the road on Tuesday as well, traveling to Rock Hill, S.C., for a 7 p.m. match-up with Winthrop. Liberty will attempt to sweep the season series from the Eagles, as the Lady Flames won the teams' first meeting, 69-42, on Jan. 22.