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Liberty Pulls Out 64-60 Victory at ETSU
The Lady Flames are now 13-2 after winning in senior guard Courtney Watkins' return to her home state. Watkins contributed 12 points and three assists to the Liberty effort. Head coach Carey Green, who also grew up in the Volunteer State, moved one step closer to a milestone with career victory No. 198.
East Tennessee State saw its two-game winning streak halted and lost only its second home contest of the year. The Lady Bucs are 5-8 on the season after dropping a back-and-forth tilt, which included six ties and 10 lead changes.
Liberty made only three field goals during the second half of its most recent game, last Saturday versus Richmond. However, the Lady Flames experienced no such struggles at the offensive end at the outset of Tuesday's contest against the Lady Bucs.
Liberty drained its first five shots from the field, running out to an early 11-2 advantage. Megan Frazee, who tallied five points during the run, closed out the surge with a baseline jumper at the 17:47 mark.
The Lady Flames were then able to score only four points over the next 12:19, and the Liberty drought enabled ETSU to take its first lead, 17-15, on Devin Thompson's old-fashioned three-point play, 6:46 before halftime. Siarre Evans, the Lady Bucs' leading scorer on the season, returned from injury to record four points during the 16-4 run, which ended with the home team on top by three.
Liberty quickly reclaimed the edge, notching five points in 40 seconds. Allyson Fasnacht's first of two opening-half triples lifted the Lady Flames to a 20-18 lead at 4:48.
The two sides then went back and forth for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes, exchanging the lead three times and knotting up the score on four occasions. ETSU got the sequence's last laugh, as Jenny Norman's layup at the 17-second mark gave the Lady Bucs a 30-29 advantage at the intermission.
Liberty outshot its hosts from the field, 44 percent to 40 percent, during the first half, and owned a 17-16 rebounding advantage. However, the Lady Flames committed 12 turnovers.
East Tennessee State was aided by 18 points in the paint and got 15 points from five different reserves off coach Karen Kemp's bench.
Megan Frazee led all players in points (11), rebounds (5) and steals (3) prior to the break. Fasnacht added six points for the Lady Flames.
Evans and TaRonda Wiles led the Lady Bucs' balanced attack with six points each.
The Lady Flames got off to a strong start in the second half, just as they had to begin the game. Liberty put together a 10-0 spurt, keeping ETSU off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes. The run resulted in a 41-32 Lady Flame edge, after Watkins swished a free throw with 14:50 on the clock.
Liberty's lead still stood at nine before ETSU's Tara Davis initiated an 8-1 Lady Buc surge with four-consecutive points. Latisha Belcher's basket from the paint at 7:07 had her team within two at 48-46.
Watkins halted the run with a triple, but East Tennessee State tallied 10 of the game's next 12 markers, going back on top, 55-53, on another Belcher hoop with 3:19 remaining. Belcher then closed out the run with a free throw, 42 seconds later.
The squads traded points on their ensuing possessions, giving the homestanding Lady Bucs a 58-55 lead with 2:03 remaining in the half.
Megan Frazee cut the deficit to one, after going two-for-two from the line at 2:01. Sister Molly Frazee followed with a three-point play with 1:05 left, giving her squad the lead for good at 60-58.
Megan Frazee's steal and free throw at the 37.3-second mark boosted the Lady Flames' edge to 61-58.
Evans' second-chance layup 16 seconds later sliced the lead to a single point, 61-60, but those would be the Lady Bucs' final tallies of the evening. Evans missed a pair of three-point tries in the closing seconds.
A Moriah Frazee lay-in and another charity toss by Megan Frazee wrapped up a game-closing 9-2 scoring run for Liberty, which improved to 5-2 in road games with a 64-60 squeaker.
Predictably, most of the statistics came out evenly., Liberty shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56) from the floor, while ETSU ended up at 39 percent (23-of-59). The Lady Flames controlled the glass, though, outrebounding the home squad, 41-33.
Megan Frazee's second-straight 21-point effort and her seventh double-double of the year also included game-high totals in steals (5) and assists (4). Frazee's steal total tied a career high.
Watkins and Moriah Frazee added 12 points each, and Frazee chipped in six boards and two blocks in just 22 minutes.
Evans was East Tennessee State's lone double-digit scorer with 13 points, although she was only 5-of-16 from the field. She also led the team with eight caroms.
Liberty will have a week off before returning home for its final tune-up before the start of Big South Conference play. For George Mason (6-5), the Patriots' first contest at the Vines Center in 17 years will tip off at 7 p.m., Jan. 15.