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Liberty Cruises Past Virginia-Wise, 82-39

November 22, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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LaKendra Washington totaled 11 points and a career-high six steals during Tuesday's victory over Virginia-Wise.

Liberty jumped out to a 15-2 lead in the first six and a half minutes of Tuesday evening's matchup with Virginia-Wise at the Vines Center and never looked back. The Lady Flames went on to post an 82-39 victory for their first home win of the year.

Liberty is now 2-2 on the young season after snapping a two-game losing skid in its first contest against the Cavaliers since Nov. 28, 1994. The Lady Flames featured a balanced offensive attack, as Danika Dale's season-high 13 points paced five players in double figures.  Liberty also came up with 20 steals, leading to 41 points off turnovers.

Virginia-Wise of the Mid-South Conference, which was led by Kristin Mullins' 10 points, is now 2-5.

Liberty snapped an early 2-2 tie by holding the Cavaliers scoreless for nearly six minutes. During that time, the Lady Flames outscored UVa-Wise, 13-0. Jasmine Gardner boosted Liberty's lead to 15-2 with a jump shot from the paint, 13:37 before halftime.

The Lady Flames took their first 20-point advantage (27-7) at the 8:13 mark of the opening half, when Tolu Omotola grabbed a rebound and banked it home in one motion.

Liberty's advantage got as large as 27 points (43-16) in the first half, after LaKendra Washington converted her fourth steal into a fast break layup 12 seconds before intermission.

The Cavaliers' Kenzie Poindexter then closed out the first-half scoring with a hoop from close range, making the halftime score 43-18.

Liberty shot 48.7 percent (19-of-39) during the opening 20 minutes, aided by 34 points in the paint. As a result, the home team enjoyed its highest-scoring half of the young season. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames held UVa-Wise to 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting from the field.

Liberty owned a 27-16 rebounding advantage in the first half and converted 13 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.

An aggressive Lady Flames defense forced 15 Cavalier turnovers before the break, leading to 22 points off turnovers.

Nine different Lady Flames scored points in the first half, led by Washington's nine tallies. Avery Warley grabbed five rebounds to lead all players.

For the red-clad visitors, Mullins tallied eight points, while Cassie Kirby collected three rebounds before the break.

Liberty raced out of the locker room with a 15-2 burst to start the second half. Dale scored the last five points of the spurt, including a putback of her own miss at 16:14 which made it 57-20, Lady Flames.

Reagan Miller's third triple of the night, which came with 6:08 to play, gave homestanding Liberty a 73-32 lead, their first 40-point cushion.

Freshman Catherine Kearney gave the Lady Flames their largest advantage of the game, 82-35, when she recorded an old-fashioned three-point play at the 2:05 mark.

Liberty then closed out an 82-39 victory, marking a season high for points scored in a contest.

The Lady Flames wrapped up the contest at 47.3 percent (35-of-74) from the floor, including 60 points in the paint. UVa-Wise finished at 31.3 percent (15-of-48).

Liberty was dominant in most statistical categories, including rebounds (51-27), points off turnovers (41-8), second-chance points (31-0) and fast break points (14-0).

The Lady Flames' 20 steals were the team's most thefts since Feb. 26, 2000, when Liberty came up with 21 steals against Radford.

Dale's 13 points, just two tallies off of the senior's career high, were part of a nice all-around effort. She also grabbed seven rebounds, distributed four assists and came up with a trio of steals.

Dale was joined in double figures by Devon Brown (12 points), Miller (11), Warley (11) and Washington (11). Brown got to within 20 points of 1,000 for her career, while Washington totaled a career-high and game-high six steals.

Gardner came off the bench to lead all players in the rebounding column, pulling down a season-best eight rebounds for the Lady Flames.

For the Cavaliers, Mullins' 10 points were complemented by Charlotte Reasor's nine markers. Cassie Kirby led the visitors with six rebounds.

Liberty will play its next two games in Nashville, Tenn., at the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament. The Lady Flames will face No. 12/14 Oklahoma (2-0) in the opening round, Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern. The other first-round tilt pits Lipscomb against the host team from Vanderbilt.

Virginia-Wise will return home for a Saturday matinee against Limestone. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.