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Hartford Defeats LU in Defensive Struggle
Despite limiting Hartford to 32.7 percent (18-of-55) field goal shooting and outrebounding the Hawks, 37-32, the Lady Flames dropped their second contest in a row. Liberty is now 1-3 on the young season and will play 4-1 South Alabama in the GW Thanksgiving Classic consolation contest, Saturday at 3 p.m. The Jaguars dropped a hard-fought, 64-59 decision to host George Washington in Friday's second contest.
Hartford, which already has a victory over No. 5/6 Duke to its credit this year, snaps a two-game losing skid. Erica Beverly's 10 points and 11 rebounds helped the Hawks improve to 4-2 in 2008-09. Hartford will face George Washington in Saturday's tournament championship game at 5:30 p.m.
Liberty tallied eight of the contest's first 11 points over the opening 4:43 of play. Sophomore point guard Rachel McLeod provided six of the Lady Flames' markers, including a short baseline jumper at 15:17 which put Liberty on top, 8-3.
The Lady Flames managed only two points during the next 8:55. During the meantime, Hartford tallied 13 markers, building its initial lead of the game to 16-10 on Lisa Etienne's pair of free throws, 6:32 before halftime.
Liberty quickly leveled the score at 16-16, by scoring on each of its next three possessions. Freshman Avery Warley, playing in her hometown, contributed four points to the Lady Flames' 6-0 burst, tying the score with her putback with 5:05 showing on the first-half clock.
The Lady Flames kept the Hawks off the scoreboard for the final 2:58 of the opening stanza. Liberty recorded the half's last four points during Hartford's drought, taking a 22-20 lead into the locker room after Moriah Frazee drained a shot from the paint at the 54-second mark.
Neither team shot the ball exceptionally well during the opening 20 minutes, with Liberty hitting 38.5 percent (10-of-26) of its field goals and Hartford making good on just 25 percent (8-of-32) of its attempts.
White-clad Liberty controlled play around the basket before the break, outrebounding Hartford, 23-17, and owning a 16-10 edge in the points in the paint category.
Leading the way for the Lady Flames inside was Warley, who totaled six points and eight rebounds during the first half. Both Rachels in Liberty's starting backcourt also excelled during the opening 20 minutes. McLeod finished with six points, while Rachel Hammond corralled six boards.
Seven different players scored for coach Jennifer Rizzotti's Hawks before the break. Leading the way, with four points each, were Erica Beverly and Katie Kelley.
Hartford emerged from halftime with a 10-0 surge. Amanda Weaver's layup at 12:50 capped the run, giving the Hawks their largest advantage up to that point, 30-22.
Freshman Brittany Campbell then provided a spark off the bench for the Lady Flames. She posted five points and an assist during a 9-0 surge, which put Liberty back on top. Amber Mays finished off the run with two free throws at the 8:15 mark, making the score 31-30, Liberty.
Shortly thereafter, MaryLynne Schaefer keyed Hartford's decisive 13-2 surge, bookending the run with a pair of three-pointers. Her triple from the left wing boosted the Hawks' lead to 45-35. With only 1:22 remaining, the edge proved to be insurmountable for the Lady Flames, who were playing without injured leading scorer Megan Frazee for the second straight game.
Hartford withstood Liberty's valiant comeback attempt to win, 46-39. The Hawks became the first opposing team in the last 24 contests to defeat the Lady Flames after trailing at halftime.
Liberty owned the advantage in most statistical categories, but Hartford's active defense came up with 18 steals, as compared with the Lady Flames' four. The Hawks converted their thefts into 23 points, a number which played a key role in their tight victory.
Campbell notched nine of her game-high and career-high 11 points after halftime, to pace the Lady Flames offensively. She became the first freshman to lead Liberty in scoring since Moriah Frazee posted a team-best 11 markers versus DePaul in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Mays chipped in with eight points, a team-high four assists and a pair of steals. Warley and Hammond cleaned up the glass for Liberty, hauling in nine and eight rebounds, respectively. Hammond's eight boards were just one shy of a career high.
Delva and Schaefer backed up Beverly's double-double by scoring nine points each for Hartford. Four Hawks came up with three or more steals in the contest, paced by Etienne and Jackie Smith, who evenly divided eight steals.