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Omotola-Warley Duo Big in Liberty Victory
Liberty's Tolu Omotola scored a career-high 19 points and teammate Avery Warley added a season-high 19 tallies, helping the Lady Flames avenge their lone Big South Conference loss of the season. The Lady Flames cruised to a 66-50 win at Radford, Saturday afternoon inside the Dedmon Center.
Liberty is now 17-8 overall and 11-1 in the Big South. The Lady Flames have won eight straight games since dropping a 62-53 home decision to Radford on Jan. 17.
Liberty is three games ahead of both Gardner-Webb and Radford in the Big South Conference standings, with only four contests remaining on the Lady Flames' regular-season schedule.
Radford, which has now lost three games in a row, falls to 10-14 overall and 7-4 in conference play. The Highlanders shot just 28.3 percent (17-of-60) for the contest, and leading scorer Da'Naria Erwin Spencer was limited to four points, 10 below her season average.
Warley drilled a pair of layups in the first three minutes of the contest, helping Liberty jump out to a 6-0 advantage.
Liberty's edge reached 14-5 when Warley canned a pair of free throws at the 13:18 mark of the opening half. Radford's Brooke McElroy and Ashley Buckhannon then hit back-to-back jumpers, pulling to within 14-9 at 12:09.
The Highlanders did not score again for more than five minutes, enabling the Lady Flames to score eight unanswered points. Omotola tallied four of those points, including two foul shots at the 7:09 mark which put the Lady Flames in front, 22-9.
Radford countered with a 7-1 surge, trimming the gap to 23-16 on Kahealani Vick's up-and-under move, 4:57 before halftime.
Despite not making a field goal for the last 9:48 of the half, Liberty took a 27-17 lead into the half.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, with Liberty shooting 34.8 percent (8-of-23) and Radford making just 22.6 percent (7-of-31) of its attempts. However, the Lady Flames enjoyed a decided advantage from the foul line. Liberty hit 78.6 percent (11-of-14) of its first-half charity tosses, while the Highlanders made 50 percent (1-of-2).
Liberty also dominated the rebounding category, pulling down 29 boards to Radford's 11. Leading the way on the glass were Devon Brown with seven caroms and Warley with six.
Warley led all players in the first half, scoring 12 points while not missing a shot. The reigning Big South Player of the Week made all four of her field goals and all four of her free throws before the break. Omotola added six points for the Lady Flames.
McElroy and Erica Rivera paced Radford with five points apiece during the opening stanza. McElroy also collected a team-leading three rebounds for the Highlanders.
Liberty opened the second half on a 13-2 run, with Omotola scoring the surge's last six points. Her layup at 16:25 made the score 40-19, Lady Flames.
Denay Wood, one of four Highlanders honored prior to the game during Senior Day festivities, helped her team chip away at its deficit with two triples. Radford got to within 46-33 at the 10:15 mark, on Rivera's pull-up jumper in transition.
Radford trimmed its deficit to 13 points on two other occasions, but could get no closer, thanks to a suffocating Liberty defense which held the Highlanders without a made field goal between the 8:07 and 1:45 mark of the second half.
The Lady Flames pushed their lead back to 19 points twice, before closing out a 66-50 decision. It was Liberty's eighth straight road victory and its 14th consecutive road win against a Big South opponent.
Liberty finished the contest at 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field, scoring 36 points in the paint. The Lady Flames also made 70 percent (21-of-30) of their free throws, while Radford shot 78.6 percent (11-of-14).
Led by Warley's 15 rebounds, Liberty owned a sizable 52-28 rebounding advantage for the game.
Turnovers were another key for the Lady Flames. The last time Liberty played Radford, the Lady Flames committed 21 second-half turnovers. On Saturday, Liberty only had three miscues after halftime.
Warley, who only misfired on one of her eight field goal attempts, continued her remarkable run of double-doubles. The Washington, D.C. native has posted five straight double-doubles, 12 in her last 14 games and 15 this season.
Warley also became the 14th Lady Flame ever to score 900 career points. She now sits at 907 career tallies. Fellow post player Omotola notched 13 of her career-high 19 points after halftime and drained all seven of her free throw attempts.
Brown chipped in eight points and seven rebounds, despite only playing 20 minutes. In the process, Brown became only the fourth Lady Flame ever to reach the 800-point mark during her sophomore campaign. She finished the contest with 804 career points.
Dymond Morgan provided solid play off of head coach Carey Green's bench, distributing a season-high and game-high five assists.
Wood was the only Highlander to score in double figures, making four triples for 12 points. The senior also collected a team-leading six rebounds.
The Lady Flames will open their final road trip of the regular season Feb. 26, when they travel to Coastal Carolina. Liberty will seek its 35th consecutive victory in the head-to-head series with the Chanticleers, with tipoff slated for 2 p.m. inside Kimbel Arena.
Meanwhile, Radford will play its final home game of the 2010-11 season Monday at 7 p.m., when Winthrop visits the Dedmon Center.