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Liberty Defeats Gardner-Webb with Team Effort

February 15, 2014
|  Boiling Springs, N.C.
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Reagan Miller hit three triples as part of a 13-point effort during Liberty's 72-62 triumph at Gardner-Webb on Saturday.

Four Liberty players scored in double figures during Saturday afternoon's contest at Gardner-Webb, helping the Lady Flames become just the second visiting team to win at Paul Porter Arena this season. Liberty's 72-62 victory snapped the Lady Flames' three-game road losing skid.

Sadalia Ellis (13 points), Reagan Miller (13 points), Ashley Rininger (13 points) and Emily Frazier (12 points) all reached double digits for Liberty, which improves to 15-10 overall. The Lady Flames remain tied with Campbell for third place in the Big South standings at 11-5.

Despite Jasmine Dale's 13 points, Gardner-Webb falls to 14-11 overall and 9-7 in Big South play. The Runnin' Bulldogs are now 11-2 at home in 2013-14.

Ellis came off the bench to score seven straight Liberty points, including the first four tallies of a 7-0 spurt by the Lady Flames. Jaymee Fisher-Davis capped off the run with a triple from the right wing at 9:39, giving the Lady Flames an 18-10 edge.

Gardner-Webb's Kierra Currie hit two three-pointers in a 60-second span, pulling the Runnin' Bulldogs to within 20-16 at the 8:21 mark.

Liberty then scored six consecutive points to take its first double-digit advantage of the afternoon. Mickayla Sanders split a pair of free throws 6:05 before halftime, putting the blue-clad Lady Flames in front, 26-16.

The duo of Lana Doran and Jasmine Dale scored all but one of Gardner-Webb's points during the remainder of the half, helping the home team cut its deficit to 32-29 at the break.

The Runnin' Bulldogs got to the foul line 10 more times than Liberty (14-4) during the opening half, making 71.4 percent (10-of-14). Gardner-Webb also made one more triple than the Lady Flames in the first 20 minutes (5-4), helping offset the Runnin' Bulldogs' 28 percent first-half field goal shooting.

Liberty had the advantage in rebounds (24-17), points in the paint (16-2) and second-chance points (7-0) prior to halftime.

Both teams relied heavily upon their reserves in the first half, with Liberty (15) and Gardner-Webb (14) combining for 29 bench points.

It was a bench player (Ellis) who paced Liberty with nine first-half points, while Katelyn Adams grabbed six boards for the Lady Flames.

Dale's 10 points led all players before halftime, with teammate Catrina Green chasing down five first-half rebounds.

Jessica Heilig scored just 17 seconds into the second half, making it a one-point game at 32-31. However, the Runnin' Bulldogs did not make another field goal for more than eight and a half minutes.

Liberty used that drought to build a 13-point advantage (50-37) when Audrey Rettstatt connected on a foul shot with 13:00 to play.

Shortly thereafter, Gardner-Webb fashioned a 9-0 burst, trimming the gap to 53-50 on an Olivia Parker layup at the 7:01 mark.

However, the Lady Flames held the host Runnin' Bulldogs at bay by sinking 15 of their 16 free throw attempts during the contest's final 5:53, including an 8-for-8 effort to close out the game in the last 49.3 seconds.

Liberty ended up going 17-of-21 (81 percent) from the charity stripe after halftime, finishing the game at 19-of-25 (76 percent). Gardner-Webb spent a lot of time at the line as well, hitting 20 of its 30 tries for 66.7 percent.

The Lady Flames shot 42.6 percent (23-of-54) from the field on the afternoon, bettering Gardner-Webb's 31.6 percent (18-of-57) clip. Liberty shook off a 1-of-17 performance from three-point range during Thursday's setback at Presbyterian College, making 7-of-16 long-distance tries for 43.8 percent.

In a battle between the Big South's top two rebounding teams, Liberty won the battle of the boards (44-36) and scored 28 points in the paint to the Runnin' Bulldogs' 20.

Liberty also equaled its season low with 11 turnovers for the second straight game.

The Lady Flames finished with 26 bench points, as nine different players put a notch in the scoring column.

Ellis scored 13 points to lead Liberty's reserves, reaching double figures for the second game in a row.

Despite being held to 19 minutes played due to foul trouble, Rininger managed 13 points. Miller chipped in 13 points of her own, highlighted by three triples, and dished out a team-high five assists.

Frazier hit two three-pointers of her own as part of a 12-point, five-rebound, four-assist performance. Adams grabbed a team-high nine blocks for Liberty and tied her season high with four blocked shots.

For Gardner-Webb, Dale was joined in double digits by Heilig, who scored 11 points before fouling out. Green led all players with 14 rebounds.

Liberty will return to Lynchburg for its final two home games of the regular season, beginning Thursday evening against UNC Asheville (10-15, 7-9 Big South). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the Vines Center as the Lady Flames will look to avenge an 83-80 overtime setback at Asheville from Jan. 18.