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Liberty Defense Dominates in 70-33 Win

January 29, 2011
|  Rock Hill, S.C.
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Devon Brown scored a game-high 15 points on Saturday, sinking four three-pointers before halftime.

The Liberty women's basketball team claimed a 70-33 victory at Winthrop Saturday evening, thanks to a stifling defensive effort. The Lady Flames held the Lady Eagles to 27.5 percent shooting and forced 22 turnovers on the night.

Liberty improves to 12-8 overall and 6-1 in the Big South, after its third straight win and eighth triumph in the last nine games. The Lady Flames were also efficient on the offensive end, setting season highs for field goal percentage (54.3 percent) and three-pointers made (9).

Winthrop lost for the third time in the last four games, dropping to 9-10 overall and 3-4 in Big South play. The Lady Eagles' top three scorers this season (Dequesha McClanahan, Kaitlyn Rubino and Lacey Lyons) were all held without a single point on Saturday.

Liberty kept Winthrop scoreless for nearly nine minutes during the first half, reeling off a 16-0 run during that time. All five Liberty starters scored during the surge, which was punctuated by Devon Brown's steal and layup at 10:53. Her two points put the Lady Flames in front, 21-5.

Liberty's advantage reached 20 points (29-9) for the first time 4:28 before halftime, when Rachel McLeod drilled a mid-range jump shot as the shot clock buzzer sounded.

McLeod's hoop came during Liberty's half-ending 12-1 run, which was highlighted by a pair of Brown three-pointers. Her triple at the 1:04 mark wrapped up the first-half scoring with the Lady Flames owning a 37-10 advantage.

As would be expected when Liberty took its largest halftime lead of the season, the Lady Flames were impressive in several statistical areas during the first 20 minutes. Liberty shot 50 percent (15-of-30) from the field, including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from three-point range.

Meanwhile, the Liberty defense held Winthrop to 19 percent (4-of-21) field goal shooting and forced 14 Lady Eagle turnovers.

The Lady Flames controlled play inside of the paint, as evidenced by their 22-12 rebounding edge, 14 points in the paint and 15 second-chance points.

Brown led all players with 14 first-half points, including four three-pointers. The redshirt sophomore also grabbed four rebounds and came up with three steals. Tolu Omotola added nine points and shared team rebounding honors for the half with Avery Warley, with both players grabbing six boards. Emily Frazier distributed four assists to pace the Lady Flames before the break.

TaQuoia Hammick's four points led Winthrop's offensive attack, while Mary Hathaway corralled three rebounds during the opening stanza.

It took Liberty more than four minutes to make its first field goal of the second half, but Winthrop was only able to trim one point off of the Lady Flames' lead during that time.

Liberty scored four points in 37 seconds, taking its first 30-point advantage (44-14) after Omotola drilled a layup off of a nice pass from Jelena Antic with 15:21 remaining to play.

Winthrop scored six of the game's next seven points, cutting its deficit to 45-20 on Hammick's layup at 11:54.

But that was as close as the Lady Eagles got. Liberty countered with a 5-0 burst, including a trio of free throws by Antic. Her charity toss with 9:43 remaining made the score 50-20, Lady Flames.

Liberty's advantage got as large as 39 points, before the Lady Flames went on to claim a 70-33 victory for their sixth straight victory away from the Vines Center.

Liberty got to the free throw line 14 more times than its host, but shot just 45.8 percent (11-of-24) for the game.

The Lady Flames finished with a 39-27 rebounding advantage and tallied 22 second-chance points.

Liberty also came up with double-digit steals for the fourth game in a row, notching 11 thefts and scoring 24 points off of Winthrop's turnovers.

Brown paced Liberty's trio of players in double figures, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Antic and Omotola chipped in 11 points apiece. For Antic, it was her career-best fifth straight game in double figures. Meanwhile, Omotola led all players with seven rebounds.

Twelve different Lady Flames scored, as Liberty totaled 20 bench points. Frazier ended up with four of the red-clad Lady Flames' 17 assists.

Hammick was the Lady Eagles' leading scorer, with eight of her 12 points coming after halftime. Hammick, Hathaway and Ashley Cox collected four rebounds apiece.

Liberty will complete the first half of its Big South Conference schedule Monday at 7 p.m., with a game at Gardner-Webb. The contest will be a rematch of each of the last two Big South Championship title tilts.

Winthrop will play the middle game of its three-game homestand Monday at 7 p.m., when Coastal Carolina visits the Winthrop Coliseum.