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Defense Highlights Liberty Win Over PC

March 6, 2014
|  Conway, S.C.
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Ashley Rininger contributed 12 points and eight rebounds to Liberty's 67-42 victory over Presbyterian College in Thursday's Big South Women's Basketball Championship quarterfinal matchup.
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Facing the nation's No. 2-ranked team for scoring defense, No. 2 seed Liberty gave No. 7 seed Presbyterian College a taste of its own medicine, Thursday evening inside The HTC Center. The Lady Flames held the Blue Hose to 14 first-half points on their way to a comfortable 67-42 victory in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Women's Basketball Championship.

The Lady Flames held the Blue Hose to 29.8 percent (14-of-47) field goal shooting on the night while avenging a 46-43 setback from Feb. 13. Since then, Liberty (20-10) has won a season-best six consecutive games and now finds itself in the Big South Championship semifinals for the 18th straight season.

Liberty will match up against either No. 3 seed Winthrop or host team No. 6 seed Coastal Carolina Saturday at 8 p.m.

Presbyterian College, which never led in the game, ends its 2013-14 season with a 12-19 record.

Liberty held PC scoreless for the first 7:40, opening the game with an 11-0 lead. Back-to-back triples by Jaymee Fisher-Davis and Mickayla Sanders capped off the Lady Flames' game-opening surge.

The Lady Flames made only one field goal during the next 4:40, during which time the Blue Hose cut the deficit to 13-6.

Six different Liberty players scored points during the Lady Flames' ensuing 13-3 run. Sadalia Ellis' driving layup at 3:22 bolstered the Liberty advantage to 26-9.

The white-clad Lady Flames made all seven of their free throw attempts during the final 1:46 of the half, while Emily Frazier's contested layup at the halftime buzzer extended the Liberty lead to 35-14.

Liberty shot 42.9 percent (12-of-28) from the field before halftime, while limiting the Blue Hose to 20.8 percent (5-of-24).

Eight different Lady Flames scored points in the first half, helping Liberty enjoy a 16-4 edge in bench points. Reserve Fisher-Davis topped all scorers with eight points during the first 20 minutes, while teammate Katelyn Adams collected eight first-half boards.

PC scored the first five points of the second half, pulling to within 35-19 on Karlee Taylor's trifecta from the left wing with 18:12 left.

The Lady Flames then sealed their victory with a 20-0 run. Ashley Rininger and Reagan Miller each scored six points during the surge, and a perimeter jumper by Fisher-Davis closed it out with Liberty on top, 55-19, with 12:06 on the clock.

The Blue Hose got no closer than 23 points the rest of the way, as Liberty held its third straight opponent below the 50-point mark. The Lady Flames' 25-point victory wraps up the team's seventh straight 20-win season and 16th 20-win campaign in the last 18 years.

Liberty finished the game at 42.6 percent (23-of-54) from the field and 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from three-point range. The Lady Flames had struggled to a 1-of-17 night from three-point distance during their loss in Clinton three weeks earlier.

Liberty was also efficient at the foul line, making 16 of 21 attempts for 76.2 percent. PC connected on only 50 percent of its free throws, going 9-of-18.

After being outrebounded at Presbyterian College, Liberty owned a 42-30 edge on the glass on Thursday and scored 30 points in the paint to six for the Blue Hose.

Rininger, who was limited to a season-low four points during her last meeting with PC, tied for game-high honors with 12 points during Thursday's victory. The first team All-Big South selection added eight rebounds.

Sanders chipped in a dozen points off of head coach Carey Green's bench, contributing to Liberty's 31-12 advantage in bench points. Fisher-Davis added 10 markers on the evening, while Adams pulled down a team-high nine caroms.

Taylor, a second team All-Big South member, finished her career with a team-high 12-point effort for the Blue Hose. Teammate Keyonna Allen grabbed nine rebounds.

Postgame Quotes:

Liberty Head Coach Carey Green
"It's an exciting time, March Madness.  I'm excited about the intensity and level of effort defensively and offensively by the Lady Flames tonight.  We had good balance, which is what I think you have as you continue to advance throughout the tournament.

"The (19-0) run (in the second half) gave us some separation and we were able to relax a bit and get a lot of people involved.

"It's a good time to be putting things together.  We respected (Presbyterian) because they've beaten us.  With respect, that gives us clarity and focus.  We learned some lessons throughout the regular season, and now hope to apply those in this tournament."

Presbyterian College Head Coach Ronny Fisher
"This is a tough way to end the season because we were playing really well.  We won eight of our last 11 and you hate having that taste in your mouth after such a good season, but everyone ends with a loss except one.

"We played a very good Liberty team.  They're clicking on all cylinders right now.  We got beat by a very good team tonight, and I'm proud of our effort.

"About midway through the first half, we couldn't stop them.  I know the shots weren't going in for us, but it was more disappointing that we weren't able to stop them tonight.  They're really tough when they make the three.  They're obviously big inside, and we're not.  They're really athletic, and we're not, and when they hit the three, they're a complete team.  It's very difficult to defend everything."