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Another Dominating Defensive Efforts Lifts Lady Flames Over Highlanders
For the third-straight game, the Lady Flames held an opponent under 30 percent shooting from the field as Liberty held Radford to just 23.5 percent on the afternoon en route to a 58-50 Big South win over the Highlanders at the Dedmon Center.
With the victory, the Lady Flames push their conference record to 5-1 and 14-5 overall, marking the team's ninth win in the last 10 games. The loss, the fifth-straight for the Highlanders, drops Radford to 2-5 in league play and 9-11 overall.
The Lady Flames jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead as Roli-Ann Nikagbatse converted on an old-fashion three-point play on the opening tip-off with a lay-up and a free throw, while Nikagbatse fed Courtney Watkins down low a minute later for another lay-up to give Liberty a 5-0 lead at the 18:38 mark.
A pair of free throws by Tameisha Carter and a lay-up by Corrie Fertitta at the 16:30 mark pulled Radford within one, 5-4, while Moriah Frazee and Karolina Piotrkiewicz both connected on lay-ups to push the lead back to four points with 13:22 left to play in the opening half.
The four-point swings continued over the next three minutes as a jumper by Sarah Stevens and a lay-up by Serena White pulled Radford to within one point, 9-8, at 11:18, but Liberty scored nine-unanswered points to take a 17-8 edge on a jumper by Rebecca Lightfoot with 9:13 left in the opening half.
Stephens converted on a pair of free throws at the 6:53 mark to trim the lead back to five points, 17-12, but that would be as close as the Highlanders would get over the rest of the period as Liberty pushed its lead to as much as 11 points before setting for a 10-point edge at the break, 29-19.
The Lady Flames holding Radford to just 18.2 percent shooting from the field in the opening period (6-of-33), while the Lady Flames connected on 41.9 percent of their attempts from the field (13-of-31).
The Lady Flames pushed their lead to as much as 15 points in the opening minutes of the second half as Watkins came out the locker room and scored six-consecutive points to push Liberty's advantage to 15 points, 39-24, at the 16:59 mark.
The lead continued to hover around the double-figure mark until the waning minutes of the game as a jumper by Nikagbatse gave Liberty a 10-point lead, 54-44, with 2:14 left to play. Radford made one last push in the contest as three-pointers by Shaven Earp and White trimmed the lead back to four points, 54-50, at the 1:04 mark, but Allyson Fasnacht converted on 4-of-6 shots from the free throw line to seal the victory over the final 64 seconds.
Liberty finished the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field (24-of-59), while Radford was held to just 23.5 percent shooting (16-of-68), marking the seventh time this year that Liberty has held an opponent under 30 percent.
Watkins paced the way for the Lady Flames with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, marking her fifth double-figure game in the last six contests, while Nikagbatse and Fasnacht netted nine points each. Piotrkiewicz posted her eighth double-figure rebound game to lead the Lady Flames with 10 rebounds.
Stephens led the way for the Highlanders as she netted a game high 20 points and pulled down 12 boards for the double-double, while White added 11 points.
The Lady Flames are currently in a stretch where they play six out of seven games on the road and the lone home game over the seven games will be Liberty's next as they host UNC Asheville on Tuesday evening in the Vines Center for a 7 p.m. Big South conference.