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Second-Half Comeback Pushes Virginia Tech Past Lady Flames, 73-68
Liberty is now 2-1 on the season, after losing its 14th-consecutive match-up against the Hokies. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech remains unscathed at 3-0, on the strength of 29 points by freshman Andrea Barbour and 22 markers by Brittany Cook.
The lead changed hands four times and the score was tied once during a competitive first 6:51 of action. Liberty's Courtney Watkins completed an old-fashioned three-point play at the 13:09 mark to knot the score at 9-9.
Virginia Tech then fashioned the game's first run, ripping off the game's next seven markers over the next 1:09. Cook, who contributed five points to the spurt, put the Hokies on top, 16-9, after a fast break layup. Cook and Barbour combined for 19 of Virginia Tech's first 20 points of the game.
Liberty chipped away at the deficit and was able to retake the lead, 23-22, when an off-balance three-pointer by Allyson Fasnacht beat the shot clock buzzer at the 7:31 mark, wrapping up a 6-0 burst by the visitors.
The teams went back and forth, trading the advantage four more times before Liberty put together a 13-2 run, holding the homestanding Hokies to a single field goal during a 5:36 span late in the opening half. Six different Lady Flames scored during the stretch, which ended with Liberty holding a 38-28 edge, 1:56 before halftime. Rachel McLeod's lay-up capped the surge, and the run featured the 500th career points for both Fasnacht and Moriah Frazee.
The Lady Flames went into the locker room with a 10-point lead, 40-30. While the Hokies received 23 of their 30 markers from Cook (12 points) and Barbour (11), Liberty used extremely balanced scoring in the first 20 minutes. All eight players who saw action posted between three and seven points for head coach Carey Green's squad.
Seniors Fasnacht and Watkins paced Liberty's offensive attack with seven points apiece. The Lady Flames shot 50 percent (16-for-32) from the field during the opening half and outrebounded their ACC opponent, 17-14. Megan Frazee hauled in eight missed shots before the intermission.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames forced 11 Virginia Tech miscues in the opening 20 minutes, leading to 11 points. Liberty also outscored the Hokies by a 22-12 margin inside the paint.
Virginia Tech quickly erased its double-digit deficit after the break, reclaiming the edge, 45-44, on Laura Haskins' fast break lay-up, just 3:14 in. In total, the Hokies scored 23 of the half's first 29 points, nine of which were tallied by Barbour. Virginia Tech also pulled down the first 10 rebounds of the stanza. The home team found itself holding a 53-46 advantage with 13:50 left, after Barbour canned a free throw for her 20th point of the evening.
The Hokies, who had kept a torrid offensive pace to open the second half, were then held scoreless for the next 4:50 of play. Liberty managed only a Megan Frazee jumper during the span, however, as the Lady Flames could get no closer than five points down.
Four quick markers increased Virginia Tech's advantage to nine, 57-48, at 8:14. Sisters Megan and Moriah Frazee then took over offensively for the Lady Flames, accounting for all of Liberty's points during a 14-4 surge. Moriah Frazee's left-handed lay-up with 3:44 remaining finished the run and put her team ahead once more, 62-61. The Lady Flames' lead was short-lived, however, as Cook answered with a jumper from the top of the key.
With the score deadlocked at 64, Fasnacht intentionally fouled Cook, as the Virginia Tech guard drove to the basket on a fast break. The foul turned into a crucial four-point swing for the Hokies, as Cook swished both foul shots and Barbour scooped up a loose ball and put it in during the ensuing possession.
Liberty twice sliced the lead to two, on Megan Frazee's lay-up at 1:08 and on Watkins' hoop with 24.4 seconds remaining. However, Virginia Tech scored on each of its last three possessions and sealed its 73-68 triumph with a trio of free throws to close out the game.
Four key statistics help to explain the Hokies' second-half resurgence. Virginia Tech hauled in 12 offensive boards after halftime, leading to 15 second-chance points. The Hokies also committed only four turnovers and limited Liberty to 33.3 percent (11-of-33) field goal shooting during the final 20 minutes.
Moriah Frazee paced three Lady Flames in double figures, tallying 14 points and eight rebounds. Megan Frazee notched her second-consecutive double-double, ending up with 13 points and a matching number of rebounds. Watkins added 11 markers for Liberty.
Utahya Drye complemented the scoring exploits of Barbour and Cook with 12 points and 10 caroms. Point guard Laura Haskins reined in nine boards and came up with a game-high three steals for the victorious Hokies.
Liberty will return to action Friday evening at Xavier's Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the first of its three games at the National City Xavier Invitational. The Lady Flames will meet McNeese State (0-3) for the first time ever, Friday at 6 p.m.