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High Point Outlasts Liberty in Double OT, 94-89
|Sadalia Ellis scored a career-high 17 points on Thursday.|
Liberty's Mickayla Sanders nailed a dramatic last-second three-pointer to send Thursday evening's contest with High Point to overtime. However, the visiting Panthers pulled out a 94-89 victory in double overtime at the Vines Center, moving into a share of the Big South lead.
With the Lady Flames trailing by a 73-70 score, Sanders swished a triple from the right corner with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation, forcing Liberty's third overtime contest in the last four games.
Liberty's Sadalia Ellis and High Point's Kaylah Keys exchanged clutch three-pointers during the final 40 seconds of the first overtime, necessitating another extra five minutes of action.
The Panthers then opened the second overtime period with a 9-2 surge, propelling the visitors to their third consecutive victory inside the Vines Center.
Keys scored nine of her game-high 26 points during the two overtime sessions, helping High Point improve to 13-8 overall and 9-3 in the Big South with its fifth consecutive win overall. The Panthers now share the conference lead with Winthrop, with Liberty one-half game back in third place.
High Point became just the third Big South team in Carey Green's 15 seasons as head coach to sweep the two-game regular-season series from the Lady Flames, joining the 2006-07 High Point and 2009-10 Gardner-Webb teams.
Ellis' career-high 17 points paced five Lady Flames in double digits. However, Liberty fell to 12-8 on the year and 8-3 in conference play. The Lady Flames saw streaks of six straight home wins and 11 consecutive Big South home triumphs halted during their first double overtime game since Feb. 11, 2012 against Charleston Southern.
High Point held Liberty scoreless for the first 5:46 of the contest, opening the game with a 9-0 lead.
The Panthers' advantage was eight (23-15) before the Lady Flames took their first lead of the game with a 9-0 surge. Simone Brown scores six points during the span, including a layup at the 3:00 mark that gave Liberty a short-lived 24-23 edge.
The remainder of the half featured one tie and five lead changes. The final lead change came as the halftime buzzer sounded. Lindsay Puckett's 15-foot jumper swished through the net, putting High Point in front by a 33-32 margin at the intermission.
Liberty shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field and 85.7 percent (6-of-7) from the foul line before halftime, while tallying 18 points in the paint.
High Point led for most of the opening half despite shooting only 34.3 percent (12-of-35) from the floor. The Panthers turned 12 offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points and forced 13 Liberty turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.
Liberty was led by bench players Jaymee Fisher-Davis (9 points) and Brown (6 points) before halftime, as the Lady Flames' reserves scored 23 first-half points.
Keys paced the Panthers with eight points before the break.
Ashley Rininger put her own missed shot back at 18:19 of the second half, lifting Liberty back in front, 34-33.
However, High Point responded with a Teddy Vincent triple and an old-fashioned three-point play by Stacia Robertson for a quick 6-0 burst.
Brown's three-pointer at 16:30 cut Liberty's deficit to 41-39, but it would be the Lady Flames' last made field goal until Sanders' jumper from the top of the key connected with 8:35 to play.
Liberty's drought enabled High Point to take a game-high dozen-point advantage (52-40) when Robertson's layup at 10:31 capped off an 11-1 run.
The Panthers still led by 11 before triples by Sanders and Reagan Miller bookended a 9-2 Lady Flames surge. Miller's trifecta tickled the twine with 4:30 remaining, slicing the visitors' lead to 61-57.
High Point almost held Liberty at bay by making all 10 of its free throw attempts during the final 3:50 of regulation. However, Catherine Kearney and Sanders scored six points apiece during that time, including Sanders' game-tying trifecta.
During the first overtime, Liberty turned a four-point deficit into a three-point lead with a contested layup by Miller and two free throws and a long triple by Ellis. However, Keys connected from NBA range and then nearly won the game after a High Point steal, but the freshman's layup went off the front of the rim as the first overtime buzzer sounded.
The Panthers limited the Lady Flames to just one made field goal during the second and final overtime, sealing their hard-fought road victory.
High Point's 94 points were the most ever by a visiting team at the Vines Center and were the most scored by a Liberty opponent since Dec, 20, 2001. That day, Duke recorded a 95-53 victory over the Lady Flames at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
For the game, Liberty shot 43.8 percent (28-of-64) from the field, as compared to 38.4 percent (28-of-73) for High Point. The Lady Flames also hit nine three-pointers to the Panthers' seven.
High Point shot an amazing 91.2 percent (31-of-34) from the free throw line, falling just one shy of the Vines Center record for made free throws in a game. The Panthers made all 19 of their charity tosses in the second half and the first overtime.
Liberty was effective at the line as well, ending the game at 82.8 percent (24-of-29).
The Lady Flames enjoyed a slight advantage around the basket, defeating the Panthers in rebounds (44-42), points in the paint (34-26), second-chance points (16-13) and blocks (8-5). Liberty's eight rejections matched their season high.
Ellis, who scored 13 of her 17 points after halftime, added a team-high seven assists and matched her career high with five rebounds.
Sanders tallied all 13 of her points after the intermission, highlighted by three triples. Rininger added a dozen points, a team-high eight boards and a season-best four blocked shots. The redshirt sophomore became one of Liberty's top 50 career scorers in the process.
Brown finished with a career-high 10 points, matching Kearney's point total. The duo helped Liberty total a season-high 46 bench points.
Keys, who made four triples and all eight of her foul shots, was one of four Panthers to score in double figures.
Robertson had a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 12 boards. Fellow post player Latrice Phelps added 18 points, while Puckett came off of DeUnna Hendrix's bench for 13 points.
Liberty will take to the road on Saturday, traveling to Campbell (13-8, 8-4 Big South). Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. inside Gore Arena as the Lady Flames attempt to complete a regular-season sweep of the Lady Camels. Liberty notched a 75-52 home win over Campbell on Dec. 28.