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Brown, Warley Help Liberty Wrap Up No. 1 Seed

March 4, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Devon Brown matched her season high with 27 points Friday, helping Liberty defeat UNC Asheville and claim the Big South Women's Basketball Championship No. 1 seed.
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The Liberty duo of Devon Brown and Avery Warley combined for 51 points Friday evening, powering the Lady Flames past a scrappy UNC Asheville squad at the Vines Center. Liberty's 72-58 victory clinched the No. 1 seed for next week's Big South Women's Basketball Championship for the Lady Flames.

Brown scored 18 of her game-high 27 points during the second half, and Warley posted her 16th double-double of the year with as season-high 24 points and a game-high 11 boards.

Their efforts helped Liberty complete a season sweep of Asheville and improve to 19-9 overall. The Lady Flames, now 13-2 in the Big South, will enter the conference tournament as the top seed for the 12th time in the last 14 years. Liberty also sealed the outright Big South regular-season championship.

Despite Kendall Shepard's 21 points, UNC Asheville drops to 12-16 overall and 5-10 in conference play.

UNC Asheville hit three triples during the first five minutes, jumping out to a 13-4 advantage when Breaira Barksdale nailed a trifecta from the left wing.

The blue-clad Bulldogs owned a 15-8 lead before Liberty posted a 16-0 run. Warley highlighted the surge with six points, and Brown's layup at the 6:06 mark gave the Lady Flames a 24-15 lead. UNC Asheville went 7:30 without scoring a point.

Gentry Manley finally broke the Bulldogs' scoring drought at 5:53, making two foul shots and cutting her team's deficit to 24-17.

Liberty took a pair of 11-point leads late in the half. Warley's layup in traffic made it 33-22, 1:58 before the break.

Shepard answered with a three-pointer on Asheville's next possession, closing out the first-half scoring with Liberty on top, 33-25.

The Lady Flames shot 40 percent (12-of-30) from the field during the opening 20 minutes, as compared with 34.6 percent (9-of-26) for the Bulldogs.

Liberty more than doubled up the visitors on the boards before halftime, 25-12, and came up with seven steals.

Warley led all players with 14 points before the intermission, while also grabbing five boards. Brown chipped in nine points to Liberty's total.

Shepard's 10 first-half points paced UNC Asheville's attack.

After Lindsey Thompson opened the second-half scoring with a three-pointer for the Bulldogs, Brown countered with five straight points. The redshirt sophomore's triple from the left wing made the score 38-28 in favor of the Lady Flames with 17:50 remaining.

UNC Asheville battled back, and got to within six, 42-36, on Lindsey Montgomery's layup with 13:43 on the clock.

Tolu Omotola then helped Liberty reclaim the momentum. Her old-fashioned three-point play at 12:15 capped a quick 5-0 burst and made the score 47-36, Lady Flames.

The Bulldogs scored six of the next seven points, pulling to within 48-42 on two Shepard free throws at 9:55.

UNC Asheville got even closer, at 55-50, when Grace Blaylock canned a three-pointer with 5:49 to play.

However, the Brown-Warley combination was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome. The two players scored 20 of Liberty's 21 points between the 9:44 and 1:21 mark. Brown closed the run in style, drilling her career-high fifth three-pointer with 1:21 left, essentially putting the game away. Her trifecta made the score 69-57 in favor of the homestanding Lady Flames with just 81 seconds remaining.

Liberty's 14-point margin of victory (72-58) was its largest lead of the entire contest. UNC Asheville, the Big South's top-scoring team, was the 11th consecutive opponent the Lady Flames have held below the 60-point plateau.

The Flames shot 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the field during the second half, finishing the game at 46.2 percent (24-of-52). Meanwhile, Asheville made just 34.6 percent (18-of-52) of its field goal attempts.

Liberty controlled the area around the basket, including a 47-26 rebounding advantage. The Flames also notched 38 points in the paint and 21 second-chance tallies.

Brown's 27 points tied her season high and her five made triples set a new career best. It was the first time a Lady Flame had connected on five three-pointers in a game since Jan. 31, 2009. That day, Rachel Hammond finished with five triples against High Point.

Warley made 10 of her 12 field goal attempts on her way to 24 points. The redshirt junior also moved into 10th place on the Big South's career rebounding list with 839 career boards.

Prior to the game, Liberty's senior trio of Kittery Maine, Rachel McLeod and Dymond Morgan was honored. All three players contributed to Friday's victory, highlighted by Morgan's five points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Shepard became the first Big South player to reach the 20-point mark against the Lady Flames all season. Barksdale and Montgomery joined her in double figures, with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Montgomery's tallies enabled her to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career.

Liberty will close out the 2010-11 regular season Monday evening. The Lady Flames will play host to Presbyterian College, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Vines Center. Liberty is 6-0 all-time versus the Blue Hose.

Meanwhile, UNC Asheville will head to High Point for a season-closing Sunday matinee. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. inside the Millis Center, which will play host to the Big South Women's Basketball Championship for the third straight year.