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Lady Flames Down Lady Eagles In Battle Of Conference Unbeatens
In a game of runs, it was a 14-2 run late in the game that helped Liberty remain undefeated in Big South action as the Lady Flames downed previously unbeaten Winthrop, 56-44, Saturday afternoon, at the Vines Center.
With the victory, the Lady Flames raise their record to 3-0 in Big South action and 11-4 overall, while the Lady Eagles fall to 2-1 in league play and 8-8 overall.
The game remained close over the opening minutes of action as a three-pointer by Tiffany Rodd pulled Winthrop back with two points, 8-6, at the 16:08 mark. But the Lady Flames put together a 10-0 run to give Liberty a 12-point lead after a pair of Roli-Ann Nikagbatse (So., G/F, Berlin, Germany) free throws with 12:31 left to play in the opening half.
Liberty's lead hovered around the same margin over the next six-plus minutes as the Lady Flames led by 12 points after a pair of free throws by Courtney Watkins (So., G, Bristol, Tenn.) with 5:24 left to play in the opening period.
However, the Lady Flames would hit just two more field goals over the remainder of the period, while Winthrop strung together a 12-4 run to pull within four points at the intermission, 28-24.
Neither team could find the basket over the first four minutes of the second half as the score remained the same until Ashley Carey nailed a three-pointer at the 15:30 mark to trim the Lady Flames' lead to one point, 38-37.
The Lady Flames quickly responded as Moriah Frazee (Fr., G, Xenia, Ohio) converted on 1-of-2 free throw attempts, while Karolina Piotrkiewicz (Jr., F, Calais, France) put one back for two and Watkins nailed a trey to give Liberty a seven-point lead, 34-27, with 13:04 left to play.
The Lady Eagles responded as Ashley Fann took a feed from Iva Milevoj on the next possession and scored on a lay-up, while Milevoj knocked down a three-pointer at the 10:51 mark to pull Winthrop within two, 34-32.
The two teams traded baskets back and forth over the next several minutes with a lay-up by Milevoj pulling Winthrop within three points, 40-37, at the 7:05 mark. However, the Lady Flames stepped up their defensive pressure and allowed Winthrop just three more field goals over the remainder of the contest, while outscoring the visitors 14-2 to seal the victory.
Liberty, who was playing without the services of the conference's leading scoring in Megan Frazee (18.5 points and 9.8 rebounds) due to a knee injury, was paced by a career day from Piotrkiewicz as she recorded a career-best 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, while pulling down a career-high 16 rebounds.
Watkins followed with 11 points, which was aided by 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range and 10 points by Nikagbatse, who led the team with four assists.
Winthrop was led by Fann's 16 points as the forward finished the game 7-of-17 from the field, while tying for team-high rebounding honors with seven rebounds. Milevoy followed with 10 points and six assists.
The Lady Flames will begin a four-game road swing on Wednesday when they travel down to High Point to face the Panthers at 7 p.m., while Winthrop will return to action on Monday when they travel to Radford to face the Highlanders at 7 p.m. in the Dedmon Center.