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Brown's Huge Second Half Leads to Victory
Liberty's Devon Brown scored 21 of her season-high 27 points after halftime Friday night at Longwood, including a clutch three-pointer with 11.3 seconds remaining. The triple sealed the Lady Flames' hard-fought 75-71 victory over the Lancers at Willett Hall.
Longwood fought back from a 10-point second-half deficit to take a 71-70 lead with just over two minutes remaining. However, Brown foiled the Lancers' attempt at an upset victory by scoring the game's final five points.
Liberty is now 9-7 on the season, after extending its season-long winning streak to five games. The triumph was the Lady Flames' sixth straight win in the Route 460 rivalry against Longwood.
The Lancers drop to 3-12 on the season, despite making eight three-pointers in the second half and tallying 37 bench points.
After a tightly contested opening five minutes, Longwood used the three-point shot to fashion the game's first run. A trio of made triples highlighted the Lancers' 11-3 surge, which resulted in a 19-12 advantage after Heather Tobeck's bank shot at the 12:28 mark.
Liberty then held the homestanding Lancers scoreless for nearly three minutes, but could manage only four points during that time. The Lady Flames pulled to within 19-16 on Tolu Omotola's layup at 9:54.
Longwood's advantage got as large as nine points (31-22) 7:12 before halftime, after Krystal Garrison's pair of free throws.
The red-clad Lady Flames cut their deficit to two with an ensuing 9-2 run, which featured a pair of hoops by Avery Warley. Her layup at 3:44 made the score 33-31, in favor of the home team.
Liberty was able to level the score at 38-38, 1:18 before halftime, on Jelena Antic's old-fashioned three-point play. However, Brittany Jones' free throw sent the Lancers to halftime with a 39-38 edge.
Both teams shot the ball well during the first half, with Liberty making 47.1 percent (16-of-34) of its field goals and Longwood hitting 43.3 percent (13-of-30) of its attempts.
The Lady Flames did a good job around the basket, outrebounding their hosts by a 22-17 count and tallying 26 points in the paint.
Meanwhile, outside shooting and bench production keyed the Lancers' strong opening half. Longwood made a quartet of three-pointers, and its reserves outscored Liberty's bench performers, 13-2.
Four players (Antic, Warley, Omotola and Brown) combined to score 36 of the Lady Flames' 38 first-half points. Antic and Warley led the way with 11 markers apiece, while Omotola contributed eight points and Brown six (on both of Liberty's first-half three-pointers).
Warley paced all players in the rebound column before halftime with seven boards, while Brown distributed a team-high four assists.
Brittanni Billups led Longwood with 10 points during the first 20 minutes, while Crystal Smith contributed eight points. Mina Jovanovic led her squad with four rebounds and a matching number of assists before the break.
For the second game in a row, Liberty quickly erased a halftime deficit with a significant surge to open the second period. Led by Brown, the Lady Flames tallied 14 of the stanza's first 19 points. The redshirt sophomore's triple from the top of the key at 15:38 put Liberty on top, 52-44.
Brown also hit two free throws 45 seconds later, wrapping up a stretch where she scored 14 straight Liberty points over a span of 4:16.
Antic scored the Lady Flames' next five points, including a three-pointer with 13:10 on the clock which gave Liberty its first double-digit lead of the evening, at 59-49.
The visitors' advantage still stood at 10 points, before Longwood got right back into the game with an 11-3 burst. Morgan Smith's three-pointer with 4:40 left cut it to 64-62, in favor of the Lady Flames.
Smith's trifecta came during a span where Longwood scored its final 15 points of the contest via the three-point shot. However, Brown and Brittany Campbell countered with layups, extending Liberty's lead back to six points (68-62).
Two more triples by Morgan Smith and one by Crystal Smith enabled Longwood to come right back with a 9-2 surge. Crystal Smith's trey from the left corner gave the Lancers a 71-70 edge with 2:11 to play, igniting the home crowd.
Those would be Longwood's final points of the game, as the Lancers managed only two shot attempts the rest of the way.
An Emily Frazier pass set up Brown for a basket on the right block at the 1:51 mark. Her hoop put Liberty on top for good at 72-71.
After the Lancers' Chelsea Coward missed a three-pointer on her team's next possession, Liberty kept the ball for a minute and 21 seconds, thanks to a pair of big offensive rebounds.
After Lady Flames head coach Carey Green called a timeout with 19.2 seconds to play, Frazier drove the ball down the left side of the lane. As the defense collapsed on her, the freshman passed the ball to an open Brown on the right wing. Brown calmly swished her career-high fourth triple of the evening, providing the final points of Liberty's 75-71 decision.
Longwood got off one final shot attempt, but misfired and time ran out, enabling the Lady Flames to finish their nine-game road swing at 6-3.
Liberty shot 51.9 percent (15-of-27) after halftime, finishing the game with its second-highest field goal percentage of the season, 49.2 percent (30-of-61).
Meanwhile, Longwood ended up at 42.4 percent (25-of-59) from the field for the contest, including 38.7 percent (12-of-31) from beyond the three-point arc. The Lancers' dozen triples were the most Liberty has allowed any opponent to make this season.
The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle, 40-30, and ended the game with 46 points in the paint to Longwood's eight.
The Lancers' most impressive statistic was 37 bench points, as two Longwood reserves scored in double figures.
Brown was just one of four Lady Flames to score in double digits on Friday. She complemented her 27 points with six rebounds and a career-high five assists. She also connected on all five of her free throws, extending her streak to 13 straight made foul shots.
Antic added 16 points and five rebounds, Warley finished with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Omotola contributed 10 points and seven boards. Warley's double-double was her fourth in the last five games and seventh of the season.
Frazier was kept scoreless for the Lady Flames, but posted four assists (including two in the final two minutes) and a career-best five rebounds.
Longwood featured a balanced scoring attack, consisting of Crystal Smith (14 points), Garrison (13 points), Billups (12 points) and Coward (10 points). Billups grabbed a team-high five rebounds, while Smith dished out five assists.
Liberty will now return home to prepare for its first contest at the Vines Center since Nov. 30. The Lady Flames will play host to Radford Monday at 7 p.m., in what promises to be a battle for the Big South Conference lead. Liberty and the Highlanders are currently tied for first place in the conference, with matching 3-0 Big South records.
Meanwhile, Longwood will take to the road for its next two games, beginning with a tilt at USC Upstate Wednesday at 7 p.m.