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Lady Flames Defeat Radford in Big South Opener
|Catherine Kearney recorded the first double-double of her career on Saturday, tallying 11 points and 10 rebounds against Radford.|
For the third straight season, Liberty opened Big South Conference play with a victory over longtime rival Radford, Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center. Double-doubles by Ashley Rininger and Catherine Kearney pushed the Lady Flames past the Highlanders, 70-49.
Rininger posted her sixth double-double of the season, leading all players in both points (18) and rebounds (career-high 15). For Kearney, it was her first career double-double, consisting of a season-high 11 points and a career high-tying 10 boards.
Liberty (4-5, 1-0 Big South) has now won three straight games overall and six straight meetings with Radford. The Lady Flames are 13-1 in their last 14 conference openers.
Despite Aisha Foy's season-high 15 points, Radford (2-6, 0-2 Big South) lost its sixth consecutive game, all of which have been played away from the Dedmon Center.
Liberty used an early 9-0 burst to take a 13-4 lead when Mickayla Sanders' three-pointer swished through the net 14:59 before halftime.
Foy helped Radford stay close, scoring five straight points to pull the Highlanders within 17-13 at the 8:05 mark.
Liberty outscored the Highlanders by a 17-4 count to close the opening half, taking a 34-17 advantage into the intermission.
The Lady Flames shot 37.8 percent (14-of-37) from the field before halftime, while holding Radford to 28 percent (7-of-25). Liberty dominated the glass, owning a 29-14 rebounding edge during the first 20 minutes.
Rininger led the way on the boards with nine first-half caroms, while also tallying eight points to share team-high honors with Sadalia Ellis. Ellis tallied four of the Lady Flames' six steals prior to halftime.
Foy scored 10 points to pace Radford's attack during the opening half.
Liberty pushed its lead over 20 for the first time during a 6-0 surge early in the second half. Emily Frazier scored off of an inbounds pass from Ellis with 16:54 left, making it 42-19, Lady Flames.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Kearney with 11:23 remaining gave Liberty its largest cushion of the afternoon at 55-27.
Radford turned up the defensive pressure and was able to get within 16 (63-47) on Foy's pair of free throws with 3:15 showing on the second-half clock.
But that's as close as the Highlanders got, and Liberty posted a 70-49 victory in the 60th all-time contest in the head-to-head series.
After shooting 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the field after halftime, Liberty ended the game at 44.6 percent (29-of-65). The Lady Flames were aided by 50 points in the paint and 19 points off of Radford's 13 turnovers.
The Highlanders shot only 34.5 percent (20-of-58) from the floor for the game, and Liberty was able to chase down many of those missed shots. The Lady Flames recorded a season-high +29 (53-24) rebound advantage.
Liberty's trio of redshirt sophomore post players totaled 37 points, 34 rebounds and five blocked shots, as Katelyn Adams added eight points, a season high-tying nine rebounds and a season-best three rejections.
Fellow sophomore Ellis chipped in 10 points, a game-high five assists and a career-high four steals for the Lady Flames.
For Radford, Ayana Avery also reached double digits with 10 points during the matinee.
Liberty will be back at home Thursday at noon for an exhibition game against Anderson (S.C.). The contest will be the Lady Flames' second annual "Best Field Trip Ever Day." Last year's successful inaugural event drew 3,230 fans to the Vines Center.
The Lady Flames' next regular-season tilt will be their final non-conference game of the year. Liberty will travel to UNCW on Dec. 19 for an 11:30 a.m. tipoff against the Seahawks.