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Liberty Takes Down VCU for First Road Win
Liberty squandered a 13-point halftime lead Tuesday evening at VCU, but later came back from a five-point second-half deficit to win at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The Lady Flames' 59-57 victory marked their first road triumph of the season.
Devon Brown scored Liberty's final four points, including a pair of free throws in the final 12 seconds that helped seal the win. She finished with 10 points, making her one of three Lady Flames to score in double figures on the night. Liberty's balanced effort overcame a 26-point, 15-rebound night by the Rams' Courtney Hurt, the nation's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer.
Liberty, which snaps a two-game losing skid, improves to 4-6 on the season. Meanwhile, VCU drops to 4-5 after falling to its first Big South opponent of the year in three contests against Liberty's conference foes. The Rams had previously defeated High Point and Winthrop.
Liberty got off to a fast start, aided by three-pointers from Jelena Antic and Tolu Omotola. But it was a Brown left-handed layup in transition which gave the Lady Flames their largest lead of the early-going, 12-4, at 13:06 of the first half.
Hurt scored six straight points during VCU's ensuing 7-2 surge, which enabled the home team to trim its deficit to three, 14-11, at the 10:23 mark.
The Rams were still within three at 19-16 before Liberty fashioned a 10-0 run. Back-to-back triples by Dymond Morgan and Antic highlighted the burst. Antic then delivered a nifty assist to Emily Frazier, whose layup put the blue-clad Lady Flames in front, 29-16, 4:24 before halftime.
Liberty's advantage eventually reached 14 points, before the Lady Flames took a 34-21 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Flames shot 44.8 percent (13-of-29) from the field during the first 20 minutes, as compared with just 26.7 percent (8-of-30) for VCU. Liberty also fared well from three-point range, drilling 45.5 percent (5-of-11) of its long-range attempts. The Lady Flames' lead could have been even larger, but they made only 30 percent (3-of-10) of their foul shots before the break.
Led by Antic's seven rebounds, Liberty outrebounded the Rams in the first half, 22-20. The Lady Flames also converted 12 VCU turnovers into a dozen points.
Seven Liberty players scored in the first half, led by Antic and Frazier with eight points apiece.
The Rams' Hurt led all players in both points (10) and rebounds (8) before intermission. Sonia Johnson chipped in six points and five boards.
Liberty did not make its first field goal of the second half until Avery Warley's putback, 5:47 into the stanza. The Lady Flames' offensive drought enabled VCU to get right back into the contest.
The homestanding Rams took their first lead of the game during a 10-0 surge. Jacqueline Brewer hit consecutive three-pointers to cap the run. Her second trifecta, a bank shot as the shot clock expired with 10:54 to play, put VCU up by a 46-41 count.
However, the Rams only made two field goals the rest of the way, both of which came in the game's final minute. VCU still maintained a 50-46 edge with 5:28 left, though, before Liberty began its decisive 9-0 run.
Four different Lady Flames scored during the surge, which was punctuated by Warley's old-fashioned three-point play at the 2:52 mark. When the redshirt junior's free throw found the bottom of the net, Liberty was back on top, 55-50.
Brown and Hurt exchanged points during the final 75 seconds, beginning with a Brown layup which made it 57-52, Liberty.
Hurt's three-pointer with 49.1 seconds on the clock trimmed VCU's deficit to 57-55. After a Liberty turnover, the Rams had two shots to either tie the game or take the lead. They misfired on both, and Brown grabbed a key defensive rebound.
After being fouled, Brown pushed Liberty's lead back to three points by splitting a pair of free throws. Hurt cut the Lady Flame edge to one, 58-57, with a driving layup, but only 2.8 seconds remained.
Liberty successfully got the ball inbounds to Brown, who wrapped up the hard-fought victory by again making one of two foul shots.
The Lady Flames outshot their hosts from the field, 40 percent (22-of-55) to 33.3 percent (20-of-60). Liberty also made six three-pointers, its second-highest total of the season.
The Lady Flames did struggle from the free throw line, ending up at 47.4 percent (9-of-19), while VCU checked in at a much more successful 83.3 percent (12-of-14).
Liberty outscored VCU in points in the paint, 28-22, and posted a 42-38 rebounding edge.
Antic and Frazier joined Brown in double digits for the Lady Flames, tallying 12 points apiece. Antic completed her first double-double of the season with 10 rebounds and also distributed a team-high five assists. Frazier's career-high scoring output was complemented by four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Omotola added seven points and blocked three shots for the second consecutive contest. In total, 10 Lady Flames got into the scoring column.
Hurt was aided by VCU teammates Johnson and Brewer, who tallied 10 points each. Johnson also added eight boards.
Liberty will have a week off from competition before returning to action Dec. 28 at the Terrapin Classic, hosted by Maryland at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md. The Lady Flames' first-round contest will pit them against No. 18/17 St. John's. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.
VCU will play its second consecutive game against a Big South Conference opponent Thursday at 3 p.m., when the Rams travel to Radford.