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Defense Leads Liberty Past Charleston Southern
|Simone Brown tied her career high with 10 points during Saturday's victory over Charleston Southern.|
A staunch defensive effort keyed Liberty's 66-45 victory over Charleston Southern, Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames limited the Buccaneers to 24.5 percent field goal shooting on "Play 4Kay" day.
At the other end of the court, leading scorers Ashley Rininger and Mickayla Sanders were mired in foul trouble for most of the game. As a result, Liberty won with a balanced offensive attack, paced by the trio of Katelyn Adams, Simone Brown and Emily Frazier (10 points apiece).
By completing a regular-season sweep of CSU, Liberty improves to 14-9 overall and 10-4 in Big South play. The Lady Flames have now recorded 10 or more Big South victories in each of the last 15 seasons.
Charleston Southern falls to 8-16 overall and 4-11 in conference action, suffering its sixth straight loss overall and its 20th consecutive road setback in the head-to-head series with Liberty.
After Erin Bratcher made a three-pointer on Charleston Southern's opening possession of the game, the Buccaneers misfired on their next 11 shot attempts over the next nine minutes.
Jaymee Fisher-Davis came off of the bench to score nine points during CSU's offensive drought, including a putback hoop at the 9:58 mark which gave the Lady Flames a 16-4 advantage.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Tatum Jarvis and DJ Fowler punctuated the Buccaneers' ensuing 9-0 burst. Fowler's trifecta made it a 16-13 game with 7:39 left in the opening half.
Liberty outscored the visitors, 11-4, during the next 4:04, taking another double-digit lead (27-17) on Brown's three-point play at 3:35.
The Lady Flames owned a 29-21 edge at halftime despite zero first-half points from their two leading scorers on the season, Rininger and Sanders.
Liberty's reserves scored 17 of the Lady Flames' 29 first-half points, led by Fisher-Davis (9 points) and Brown (7 points).
Liberty made 38.5 percent (10-of-26) of its field goals before halftime, while Charleston Southern hit at a 24 percent (6-of-25) clip.
The Lady Flames nearly doubled up CSU on the boards in the first 20 minutes, 24-13. However, the Buccaneers converted Liberty's 14 turnovers into 12 points.
Charleston Southern was also led in scoring by a reserve player in the first half, as Jarvis tallied seven points.
CSU quickly cut its halftime deficit in half, scoring four points in the first 42 seconds of the second half. The Buccaneers were within 29-25 after Anicia Dotson's steal and layup.
Again Liberty responded, scoring eight consecutive points to push its lead to 37-25. Audrey Rettstatt ended the surge with her first collegiate points, fashioning a three-point play with 16:10 left.
The Buccaneers battled back, getting to within eight points twice. A pair of Dotson free throws at the 13:35 mark trimmed the blue-clad visitors' deficit to 40-32.
CSU was still within 10 at 47-37 when a Jarvis three-pointer tickled the twine with 8:21 on the clock.
However, the Buccaneers went nearly six minutes before making their next field goal. During that time period, Liberty doubled its lead. Rininger's right-handed bank shot at 2:53 put the Lady Flames on top by a 60-40 count, sending them well on their way to a 21-point victory.
For the game, Liberty connected on 40 percent (20-of-50) of its field goal tries but nailed only two triples. The Lady Flames were effective at the free throw line, making 24 of 31 attempts for 77.4 percent.
The Big South leader in three-pointers made, Charleston Southern hit only five triples out of 22 attempts for 22.7 percent on Saturday. The Buccaneers also made just 56 percent (14-of-25) from the charity stripe.
Liberty used its size advantage to great effect around the basket, enjoying sizeable advantages in rebounds (51-28), points in the paint (30-10) and second-chance points (14-6).
Nine different players scored points for the Lady Flames, including the first career tallies for freshmen Rettstatt and Emily Stotmeister.
Adams pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds to complete her fourth double-double of the season and the sixth of her career. It was the redshirt sophomore's second double-double in as many games against CSU this season.
Brown and Frazier each nabbed seven rebounds to go along with their 10 points. Brown's 10-point output equaled her career high. Frazier did most of her work at the foul line, setting career highs for free throws made (8) and attempted (9).
Jarvis paced the Buccaneers in both points (13) and steals (4), while Bratcher collected a team-high seven rebounds.
Liberty will play four of its last six regular-season games away from the Vines Center, beginning at Presbyterian College (7-17, 5-10 Big South), Thursday at 7 p.m. The Lady Flames will attempt to complete a regular-season sweep of the Blue Hose in their first game at PC since Feb. 20, 2012.