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Lady Flames Win Battle of BSC Unbeatens
A balanced offensive attack and a staunch defensive effort led Liberty to a 51-40 victory over Presbyterian College in a matchup between unbeaten Big South teams, Saturday at the Templeton Center.
Devon Brown's 13 points paced three Lady Flames in double figures, while Liberty limited the Blue Hose to just six second-half field goals. Those numbers helped the Lady Flames improve to 7-7 overall and tie Radford for first place in the Big South standings at 2-0. Liberty, which has won a season-best three games in a row, is now 6-0 all-time against Presbyterian College.
Meanwhile, the Blue Hose drop to 4-9 overall and 1-1 in conference play. The loss was just PC's second home setback of the season.
Led by four points apiece from Tolu Omotola and Avery Warley, Liberty opened the contest on a 10-3 run. Jelena Antic closed out the surge with a bank shot from the right side, at the 16:43 mark.
The Blue Hose battled back, cutting their deficit to 12-9 when Shonda Burnside split a pair of free throws, 12:52 before halftime.
Liberty held PC to one made field goal over the next eight and a half minutes of play, notching a 13-2 surge during the meantime. Brown punctuated the run with six straight points, including an old-fashioned three-point play at the 4:46 mark which made it 25-11, Lady Flames.
The Blue Hose then scored 11 of the half's final 13 points, trimming their deficit to 27-22 at the break. Reigning Big South Freshman of the Year Mariah Pietrowski highlighted PC's surge with a pair of hoops.
PC outshot Liberty from the field in the first half, making 47.4 percent (9-of-19) of its attempts, but the Blue Hose were plagued by 11 turnovers. The Lady Flames shot 37 percent (10-of-27) from the floor and got to the free throw line more often than their hosts.
Liberty made 55.6 percent (5-of-9) of its foul shots during the first 20 minutes, while the Blue Hose shot 50 percent (2-of-4).
PC owned a slight 17-16 rebounding edge in the first half, despite no individual having more than two boards. Liberty was led on the glass by Omotola's four boards.
Omotola also paced the Lady Flames with eight first-half points, while Brown added six tallies. Stevens' eight markers led PC.
The Blue Hose only made one field goal in the first eight minutes of the second half, as Liberty pushed its lead up to 37-25 on Danika Dale's made free throw at the 12:51 mark.
Amanda Mills banked in a three-pointer with 12:00 to play, pulling the Blue Hose to within 37-28. However, Dale set up Warley for a layup on a nice assist just 27 seconds later, and Liberty maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The Lady Flames kept their advantage, thanks to offensive rebounding and free throw shooting. Liberty grabbed 16 offensive caroms after halftime and made 10 second-half charity tosses.
At one point, the Lady Flames hauled in four consecutive offensive rebounds and held onto the ball for 1:28 without relinquishing it..
Liberty's final margin of victory was 51-40, giving head coach Carey Green his 271st career win. He has been at the helm for exactly half of the 542 victories in program history, during his 12 seasons with the Lady Flames.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball on the night. Presbyterian College finished at 38.5 percent (15-of-39) from the field, while the Lady Flames ended up at only 32.1 percent (17-of-53).
Liberty outscored PC by eight points from the free throw line, making 57.7 percent (15-of-26) of its foul shots. The Blue Hose hit 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from the line.
Two keys to Liberty's triumph were the way the Lady Flames hung onto the ball (season-low 10 turnovers) and their second-half rebounding. Liberty outrebounded Presbyterian College, 27-17, after the break, finishing the contest with a 43-34 edge on the glass.
Brown made all four of her free throws as part of her 13-point night. Warley chipped in a dozen points and shared the team lead with seven rebounds, before fouling out late. For her career, she is now shooting 83.3 percent (10-of-12) from the field and 90 percent (9-of-10) from the charity stripe in three games at the Templeton Center.
Antic added 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds of her own for the Lady Flames, while Omotola ended with eight points and six boards.
No Blue Hose player reached double figures in the scoring column. Stevens topped PC's scoring list with nine points, and backcourt mate Dria David had seven points. Burnside came off the bench to pull down a team-high six rebounds for the home team.
Liberty will play its third consecutive road game to start Big South Conference play on Monday. The Lady Flames will travel to UNC Asheville, with a 7 p.m. tipoff scheduled at the Justice Center. It will be Liberty's last visit to the Justice Center, with the Bulldogs' new arena set to open in time for the 2011-12 season.
Meanwhile, Presbyterian College will wrap up its four-game homestand with a non-conference tilt on Tuesday. Savannah State will visit the Templeton Center for a 7 p.m. tipoff.