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Liberty Wins 2nd Game in 24 Hours, 61-44
Video Highlights (Courtesy of UNC Asheville)
Forced to play its second game in less than 24 hours due to approaching inclement weather, the Liberty women's basketball team posted a 61-44 victory at UNC Asheville, Sunday afternoon.
For the second straight day, the Lady Flames used a similar winning recipe—balanced scoring and a strong second-half defensive effort. Five Liberty players scored between eight and 11 points, highlighted by Avery Warley's double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds).
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames overcame a two-point halftime deficit by holding the homestanding Bulldogs to 15 second-half points.
Liberty has now won four straight games and five of its last six outings, all of which have been played away from the Vines Center. As a result, the Lady Flames are now 8-7 overall and own sole possession of first place in the Big South standings at 3-0.
UNC Asheville dropped its third straight home Big South contest, falling to 7-7 on the season and 0-3 in conference action.
The score was deadlocked at 7-7 early on, before Liberty fashioned an 11-0 run. Tolu Omotola notched six straight points during the surge, and Kylee Beecher's layup at 12:24 made it 18-7, Lady Flames.
The homestanding Bulldogs then hit four three-pointers during an ensuing 18-4 surge. But it was Kelli Riles' layup with 5:19 on the first-half clock which put Asheville in front, 25-22.
UNC Asheville did not trail again for the remainder of the opening half, taking a 29-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Both teams shot 31.4 percent (11-of-35) from the field during the first half, with the Bulldogs sinking five triples to Liberty's two.
Asheville enjoyed a 26-24 rebounding edge before the break, including 11 offensive boards which led to 10 second-chance points.
Omotola finished the opening half with eight points to pace the Flames, while Emily Frazier added six points on a pair of three-pointers. Devon Brown collected six first-half rebounds, pacing the squad.
Breaira Barksdale played a strong all-around half for UNC Asheville, posting eight points, five rebounds and five assists. Lindsey Montgomery came off the bench for six boards.
Liberty roared out of the locker room with a 19-2 run to open the second half. After sitting out most of the first half with two fouls, Warley scored nine quick points after the break. Danika Dale's hoop at the 13:36 mark gave the Lady Flames a 46-31 edge.
UNC Asheville got no closer than 13 points down the rest of the way, while Liberty's advantage reached 20 (58-38) when Rachel McLeod made one of her four second-half jump shots with 5:39 remaining.
In the end, Liberty was victorious in its final contest at the Justice Center, 61-44. The Lady Flames have won 14 straight road meetings with UNC Asheville, with the Bulldogs' brand-new Kimmel Arena slated to open next season.
Liberty finished the game with 37.5 percent (24-of-64) field goal shooting. The Bulldogs struggled even more from the field, connecting on only 28.6 percent (16-of-56) of their attempts. UNC Asheville was held without a three-pointer in the second half, after sinking five during the first 20 minutes of play.
The Lady Flames shot free throws well, finishing at 75 percent (9-of-12). Meanwhile, Asheville hit just 43.8 percent (7-of-16) of its charity tosses.
Liberty made use of its height advantage, winning the rebounding battle, 46-42, and scoring 34 points in the paint. The Lady Flames also rejected a season-high seven shots on the afternoon.
Warley's double-double was her third in the last four games and her sixth of the season, and it came in only 15 minutes of playing time. Fellow starters Omotola and Frazier chipped in 10 points apiece, with Omotola adding six rebounds and Frazier a team-leading six assists.
McLeod scored all nine of her points after halftime, while Devon Brown contributed eight points and a season-high seven rebounds.
Barksdale was the only Bulldog to score in double figures, closing the game with 10 points, seven assists and six boards. Freshman Blake Cokes came off the bench in the second half to score nine of Asheville's 15 second-half points and grab half of her team's 16 rebounds.
Liberty will return to the Commonwealth to wrap up its nine-game road swing Friday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames head to Longwood. The contest against the Lancers will be Liberty's final non-conference tilt of the season, before the Lady Flames play 13 consecutive Big South Conference games.
UNC Asheville will now prepare for the annual South Carolina "Beach Trip." The Bulldogs will play at Coastal Carolina Saturday at 2 p.m., opening the two-game jaunt.