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Liberty's Comeback Falls Short in 54-51 Loss
Liberty trimmed a 17-point deficit to one Monday evening at Charleston Southern. However, the homestanding Lady Buccaneers held on for a 54-51 victory inside Buccaneer Fieldhouse.
Despite Avery Warley's career-high 21 rebounds, Liberty drops to 18-9 overall and 12-2 in the Big South after seeing its nine-game winning streak halted. The Lady Flames had also won 15 straight road games against Big South opponents and 28 straight matchups against Charleston Southern.
The Lady Buccaneers, who defeated Liberty for the first time since Jan. 18, 1999, are now 13-14 overall and 7-7 in conference play. CSU, which never trailed in the game, was aided by 10 three-pointers and Liberty's 26 turnovers.
It took the Lady Flames more than four minutes to make their first field goal of the contest. Charleston Southern built an 8-1 lead to start the game, highlighted by Katie Tull's four-point play at the 16:04 mark.
Tull's triple was the first of many for the Lady Buccaneers during the first half. CSU's seventh trifecta of the contest, an NBA-range connection by Helen Terry at the 3:25 mark, lifted the home team's lead to 30-13.
Liberty played its best basketball of the stanza after Terry's connection. Devon Brown scored six points during a half-closing 8-3 surge, enabling the red-clad Lady Flames to pull within 12 points, 33-21. at the break.
Liberty actually shot a higher field goal percentage than its host during the first half, making 42.9 percent (9-of-21) of its shots. CSU shot 36.4 percent (12-of-33) from the field, but eight of the Lady Buccaneers' field goals came from three-point range.
Charleston Southern also forced 17 Liberty turnovers during the opening half, leading to 15 points.
The Lady Flames controlled the action around the basket, grabbing 25 rebounds to CSU's 12 and tallying 16 of their 21 points within the paint.
Brown led the Lady Flames with six points in the first half. Warley added five points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Kelsey Wasmer paced CSU's first-half attack, scoring 12 points on four triples and grabbing four boards.
After Tull opened the second-half scoring with a three-pointer, Liberty notched a 6-0 run. Brown's fast break layup brought the Lady Flames within single digits at 36-27, with 14:03 showing on the clock.
Charleston Southern led by 10 before an 11-2 Liberty burst trimmed the deficit to 43-42 at the 6:19 mark. Brown tallied five points during the run, but it was Tolu Omotola's layup from the right block which punctuated the surge.
However, the Lady Buccaneers bounced right back with six-straight points. Terry's steal and ensuing layup pushed CSU's lead back up to 49-42 with 4:52 remaining.
Liberty made one more run, as back-to-back jumpers by Brown made the score 51-48 at 1:46.
However, the Lady Flames did not score again until Emily Frazier's three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. In the meantime, Charleston Southern had cemented its 54-51 win with a Terry free throw and layup. Terry scored five of the Lady Buccaneers' final seven points of the game.
The final stat sheet showed a decided Liberty advantage in several categories. The Lady Flames made 54.5 percent (12-of-22) of their second-half field goal attempts, bumping their field goal percentage to 48.8 percent (21-of-43) for the contest. Meanwhile, CSU finished at just 33.3 percent (20-of-60).
Liberty also outrebounded its 21st straight opponent, grabbing 43 rebounds to the Lady Buccaneers' 26. Additionally, the Lady Flames outscored CSU inside the paint, 34-16.
While Charleston Southern forced 26 Liberty turnovers and converted them into 25 points, the Lady Buccaneers only made 11 turnovers of their own.
CSU slowed down from behind the three-point arc during the second half, but finished the contest with 10 made triples.
Brown was the only Lady Flame to reach double figures on Monday, ending the contest with a game-high 19 points.
Warley chipped in nine points to complement her career-high 21 rebounds, career-high five assists and three blocked shots. The redshirt junior's 21 boards were the most by a Lady Flame since Dec. 4, 1992, when Theresa Bream corralled 23 missed shots against St. Peter's.
Warley, who now has a pair of 20-rebound games this season, also became the fourth Liberty player ever to reach 100 career blocked shots.
Omotola added eight points and a matching number of rebounds for the Lady Flames.
Wasmer paced the victorious Lady Buccaneers in both points (16) and rebounds (9). Tull added 13 markers, while Terry had 11 points, four assists and four steals off of the bench.
Liberty will return home for its final two contests of the 2010-11 regular season, beginning with a Friday evening matchup against UNC Asheville. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Vines Center, as the Lady Flames celebrate Senior Night. The trio of Kittery Maine, Rachel McLeod and Dymond Morgan will be recognized prior to the game.
The Lady Flames will have another chance to clinch the No. 1 seed for the Big South Women's Basketball Championship if they are able to defeat the Bulldogs on Friday.
Charleston Southern will play host to Coastal Carolina Friday at 7 p.m. for a battle between the Palmetto State rivals.