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VCU Spoils Liberty's Home Opener, 52-47
|Liberty won the rebounding battle against VCU but ultimately lost its home opener by a 52-47 count, Tuesday evening at the Vines Center.|
Liberty's Devon Brown sparked a furious second-half comeback which sliced her team's 17-point deficit to three, Tuesday evening at the Vines Center. However, VCU held off the Lady Flames by a 52-47 count, spoiling Liberty's 2011-12 home opener.
Both teams evened their records, as Liberty falls to 1-1, while VCU improves to 1-1 to start the year. Led by Andrea Barbour's 18 points, the Rams made it three straight times that the visiting team has been victorious in the Liberty-VCU head-to-head series. They also halted the Lady Flames' seven-game home winning streak.
Barbour scored 15 of her points after halftime, which equaled Brown's second-half scoring output. Brown paced the Lady Flames with 17 points overall.
The Commonwealth rivals both got off to a slow start on the offensive end, and black-clad VCU owned a 3-2 edge at the first media timeout, with 14:58 remaining in the first half.
Six straight points by the Rams, capped off by a Robyn Parks mid-range jumper, opened a 9-4 advantage for the visitors at the 11:53 mark.
Tolu Omotola split a pair of free throws 7:35 before halftime, becoming the first Lady Flame other than Danika Dale to crack the scoring column and making the score 9-7, VCU.
Carleeda Green came off the VCU bench to score the first six points of the Rams' half-closing 11-0 surge. Green then assisted on Jennifer Lane's three-pointer from the left corner 10 seconds before the intermission, which sent the Rams into the locker room with a 24-10 advantage. Liberty was held scoreless for the final 4:10 of the half.
Both teams struggled to find their shooting touch during the first 20 minutes. VCU ended the first half at 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from the field while Liberty checked in at 16.7 percent (4-of-24). The Rams' aggressive defense came up with eight steals before halftime.
Liberty's best statistic during the first half was rebounds, where the home team owned a 23-18 edge, led by Avery Warley's 11 caroms.
Dale's six points led the Lady Flames before the break, while Green totaled nine markers for VCU. Parks added seven points and a team-high three steals to the Rams' effort.
Barbour opened the second-half scoring with a fast break layup for VCU, closing out the Rams' overall run at 13-0 and pushing their lead to 26-10.
Liberty tallied the next four points, pulling to within 26-14 with 17:26 on the second-half clock when Warley went 1-for-2 from the free throw line.
Five consecutive points by Lane helped VCU bolster its lead to 33-16 with 15:12 remaining.
Brown then sparked a 14-0 Liberty burst, which got the homestanding Lady Flames right back into the game. The redshirt junior scored nine of the run's points, including a three-pointer at the 10:25 mark which made it a one-possession game at 33-30.
Liberty was still within three points before VCU fashioned a 7-0 run. Parks' layup at 7:55 gave the Rams another double-digit lead, 42-32.
But Liberty came right back, holding the Rams to one field goal during the next five and half minutes. As a result, the Lady Flames were able to cut the deficit to 44-40 when Brown made two free throws at the 2:49 mark.
Just 22 seconds later, Barbour's second-chance hoop turned into a key three-point play, nearly doubling the VCU advantage to 47-40.
Warley, who had been dominating in the rebounding category but quiet at the offensive end, accounted for the game's next four tallies. Her up-and-under move with 1:23 left brought Liberty back to within 47-44.
However, the Lady Flames did not score again until Reagan Miller's long-range three-pointer swished through the net as the final buzzer sounded.
In the meantime, Liberty missed a pair of three-point tries, including a Brown attempt which could have tied the game with 51 seconds left. VCU was able to ice the 52-47 road victory by hitting five free throws in the last 39 seconds, including three by Barbour.
The two teams finished with nearly identical shooting numbers from the field, as VCU ended at 32.1 percent (17-of-53) and Liberty hit 30.2 percent (16-of-53) of its field goals. The Rams were a bit better from the free throw line, making 60 percent (15-of-25) to the Lady Flames' 55 percent (11-of-20).
Liberty outrebounded its 29th straight opponent, dating back to the 2010-11 season, closing the game with a 44-41 advantage on the glass. On the other side of the court, VCU was keyed by 16 steals, which helped lead to a dozen fast break points.
Brown, who led Liberty in scoring for the second straight contest, is nearing the 1,000-point mark for her career. The redshirt junior, who now has 954 markers, also totaled a team-high four steals.
Warley led all players with 19 rebounds, while taking sole possession of fifth place in Big South history with 934 career boards. She added eight points, which was one behind Dale's game-ending total of nine.
Omotola chipped in eight rebounds, while Miller distributed a game-high four assists while logging 39 minutes.
For VCU, Barbour was joined in double figures by Parks, who contributed 11 points and four steals. Courtney Hurt, the nation's top rebounder in 2010-11, finished with six boards on Tuesday, sharing the team lead with Lane.
Liberty will now visit Greensboro, N.C. for the second Friday in a row, for a contest at North Carolina A&T. Tipoff at the Corbett Sports Center is set for 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, VCU will remain on the road for a contest at UMKC, scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.