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Outside Shooting Lifts South Alabama Past LU
The Lady Flames put three players in double figures for the first time this season, led by Moriah Frazee's season-best totals of 17 points and eight rebounds. However, Liberty falls to 1-4 after its third straight setback.
Meanwhile, Jessica Starling's 18 points paced a trio of double-digit scorers for victorious South Alabama. The Jaguars of the Sun Belt Conference are now 5-1 on the year.
Amber Mays opened the game's scoring by canning a pair of left-handed layups in the first 1:36 of play, staking the Lady Flames to an early 4-0 lead.
South Alabama answered with five straight markers, claiming its first advantage, 5-4, when Shakira Nettles made two free throws at 16:30. Her connections from the charity stripe commenced a back-and-forth sequence, which featured two ties and four lead changes over the next six minutes.
The Jaguars' Karina Sproal tallied five points in a row, opening up a bit of breathing room for her team. Her long three-pointer at the 8:20 mark pushed South Alabama's edge to 18-14.
South Alabama did not trail again until only 1:48 remained in the stanza, when Rachel McLeod went two-for-two from the foul line for the Lady Flames, putting her team in front, 29-27. The sophomore's free throws finished a 6-0 Liberty run, which had begun with consecutive baskets by Mays.
Liberty took a 31-30 lead into the locker room, after Kylee Beecher hit a seven-foot jumper at the 10-second mark.
The first half included four ties and eight lead changes, between two teams which contrasted in styles. Liberty's game plan during the opening 20 minutes emphasized inside play, and the Lady Flames were able to outscore the Jaguars in the paint, 22-4, and outrebound their opponent, 20-11. Liberty's 31 points represented its highest-scoring first half of the young season.
Meanwhile, South Alabama's preferred method of scoring was the three-point shot. Nearly half of the Jaguars' first-half field goal attempts (13 of 28) came from beyond the arc, and South Alabama made six of them.
Individually, Mays paced Liberty's offense, sinking all five of her shots for 10 points. Moriah Frazee chipped in with six points, while Washington, D.C., native Avery Warley nabbed a half-best seven rebounds.
Starling and Nettles connected on two triples apiece for the Jaguars during the first half. Starling totaled 10 points, while Nettles added eight markers.
South Alabama got right back to its stellar outside shooting after the break. Back-to-back triples initiated an 8-0 burst by the Jaguars. Brittney Rutledge's long jumper from the corner with 17:53 remaining closed the run with South Alabama owning a 38-32 edge.
Moriah Frazee made both the first and the last baskets of Liberty's ensuing 8-0 surge. Her layup from the right block reclaimed the lead for the Lady Flames, 40-38, with 14:05 showing on the second-half clock.
South Alabama bounced right back, and gained a four-point lead, 50-46, on Siedah Banks' old-fashioned three-point play at 7:48.
Liberty could get no closer than two for the remainder of the contest, and the Jaguars were able to build their largest advantage of the day, 60-52, when Starling's fast break layup with 50 seconds left capped an 8-2 run.
South Alabama sealed its fifth win of the season and Liberty's third single-digit setback, by sinking five of six foul shots in the final minute.
Liberty ended the contest with a higher field goal percentage than South Alabama (45.3 percent to 37.5 percent) and outrebounded the Jaguars, 41-30.
However, free throw shooting in the second half made a difference in the tightly-played contest, which saw six ties and 13 lead changes. South Alabama shot 83.3 percent (10-of-12) from the charity stripe during the final 20 minutes, while Liberty hit just 53.3 percent (8-of-15) of its foul shots after the intermission.
Mays ended the afternoon with a season-best 14 points for the Lady Flames, while Brittany Campbell provided an offensive spark off the bench for the second straight game. The freshman has now recorded consecutive double-digit scoring efforts, after her 10-point outing.
Another Liberty freshman, Beecher, set career highs for both points (7) and rebounds (10). Her 10 boards, seven of which came after halftime, led all players. Warley contributed nine caroms, while McLeod equaled a season best with her six assists.
South Alabama's Nettles hit a quartet of three-pointers, on her way to 16 points. Sarda Peterson added 11 points for the Jaguars.
Liberty will remain on the road for the fifth consecutive game Tuesday, when the Lady Flames travel to James Madison (2-2). Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center, where the Dukes have won 47 of their last 50 home games.