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Defense Keys Liberty's 63-46 Victory Over CSU
A staunch defensive effort enabled the Liberty women's basketball team to successfully bounce back from Monday night's loss to Radford. The Lady Flames held Charleston Southern to a season-low 46 points in a 63-46 triumph, Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center.
Liberty limited CSU to 29.1 percent (16-of-55) shooting for the game. Meanwhile, all five Lady Flames starters scored at least eight points, paced by Avery Warley's 15 points and season-high 16 rebounds.
The Lady Flames never trailed, while improving to 10-8 overall and 4-1 in Big South contests. Liberty has now won 28 straight matchups against the Lady Buccaneers.
Meanwhile, Charleston Southern saw its three-game winning streak snapped. The Lady Buccaneers are now 9-10 overall and 3-3 and in conference action.
Liberty got on the board just 12 seconds into the contest, as Devon Brown's layup ignited a 7-2 game-opening run.
Charleston Southern cut the gap to two by scoring five of the next seven markers. Katie Tull's deep three-pointer from the left wing at 16:44 made the score 9-7, Lady Flames. Her triple, the 264th of her career, broke the Big South Conference all-time record for three-pointers made.
But that was as close as the Lady Buccaneers get during the first half. Liberty pushed its advantage to eight points with an ensuing 10-4 surge. Tolu Omotola scored six points during the run, and Jelena Antic capped the burst with a fast break layup off a nice bounce pass from Brown. Her hoop made the score 19-11, Liberty, 10:09 before halftime.
The Lady Buccaneers fashioned a quick 5-0 burst, shaving their deficit to 19-16 when Lakeitha Alston made a layup, 8:42 remaining in the opening period.
However, CSU only made one more field goal the rest of the half, enabling Liberty to close the period with an 11-2 run. Freshman Emily Frazier tallied seven of the Lady Flames' points during the surge, including a triple from the left corner which sent Liberty into the locker room with a 30-19 lead.
The 19 points equaled Charleston Southern's lowest first-half scoring output all season, and were 30 fewer than the Lady Buccaneers scored in the first half against UNC Asheville on Monday. CSU shot just 28 percent (7-of-25) from the field, 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from three-point range and 20 percent (1-of-5) from the foul line before the break.
Meanwhile, Liberty hit 50 percent (12-of-24) of its field goals and 83.3 percent (5-of-6) of its free throws in the first half. The Lady Flames also notched 18 points in the paint and 11 points off of CSU's 10 turnovers.
Antic and Omotola paced Liberty's offensive attack with eight points apiece in the opening half. Meanwhile, Warley grabbed seven rebounds, helping the Lady Flames outrebound their guests, 21-12.
Kelsey Wasmer led CSU in both points (8) and rebounds (4) before halftime.
After Tull opened the second-half scoring with a triple from the left corner, Liberty posted a 7-0 run. Brown punctuated the quick surge with a three-pointer at 18:13, boosting the Lady Flames' advantage to 37-22.
The Lady Buccaneers used the three-point shot to climb back into the game. Three made triples, including one by Wasmer at the 15:10 mark, helped CSU get to within 41-31.
Liberty turned up the defensive pressure, limiting the visitors to two made field goals in the next 10 minutes. The Lady Buccaneers' drought enabled the Lady Flames' lead to reach 20 points for the first time, 57-37, on Antic's layup with 5:54 to play.
Charleston Southern got no closer than the final margin of 17 points (63-46) the rest of the afternoon.
While the Lady Buccaneers struggled with their shooting, Liberty was efficient at the offensive end. The Lady Flames finished at 45.1 percent (23-of-51) field goal shooting and made a season-high 88.2 percent (15-of-17) of their free throws. Liberty scored more than half of its points (36) inside the paint.
Meanwhile, Charleston Southern relied upon three-point shooting, as usual. The Lady Buccaneers made 10 triples, but it took them 35 attempts to get there, equaling 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Liberty outrebounded its 12th straight opponent, by a 41-31 count. The Lady Flames' proficiency on the glass led to 16 second-chance points.
Warley did her best work after halftime, tallying 13 points and nine boards during the contest's final 20 minutes. During the second period, the redshirt junior went over the 800-point and 700-rebound milestones for her career. She is only the fifth player in program history to reach both of those figures.
The double-double was Warley's fourth in a row, equaling the longest streak of her career. She now has nine double-doubles this season and 22 in her career.
Antic scored in double figures for the third straight outing, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds and a career-high two blocks. Brown chipped in a dozen points, while Frazier finished with 10 markers.
Dymond Morgan also played a key role off of coach Carey Green's bench. She tied a season high with four assists and came up with a career-high five of Liberty's 13 steals.
Wasmer led CSU in both points (16) and rebounds (6), while connecting on four three-pointers. Tull, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, added 11 points. She ended the contest with 266 career three-pointers, extending upon her all-time conference record.
Liberty will close out its three-game conference homestand Monday at 7 p.m., when Coastal Carolina comes to town. The Lady Flames will attempt to win their 34th straight contest against the Chanticleers.
Meanwhile, Charleston Southern will remain within the Commonwealth, traveling to Radford Monday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.