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Warley Leads Way in Liberty's 82-37 Win
One game after joining the 1,000-rebound club, Liberty redshirt senior center Avery Warley starred in Thursday evening's non-conference women's basketball game inside the Vines Center. Despite playing only 18 minutes, Warley paced the Lady Flames with 22 points and 11 rebounds, keying an 82-37 romp over Virginia Union.
Warley helped Liberty assert its dominance around the basket in its second consecutive win, which leveled the Lady Flames' season record at 5-5. Liberty nearly doubled up the Panthers in the rebounding column, 68-35. A season-high 34 of those boards came at the offensive end, leading to 30 second-chance points.
Liberty also spent a lot of time at the free throw line on Thursday, attempting a program and Vines Center-record 51 free throws. The previous mark of 49 was set against Coastal Carolina in the opening round of the Big South Women's Basketball Championship on Feb. 27, 1997. The Lady Flames made 29 of their charity tosses for 56.9 percent.
Despite Valentina Wheeler's double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds), Virginia Union dropped to 2-5 on the season and 0-6 all-time versus the Lady Flames.
The Panthers started out the game well, jumping out to a 5-0 lead at the outset and keeping the Lady Flames off the scoreboard for nearly three minutes.
Once Catherine Kearney broke the ice with a putback hoop at 17:01 of the first half, the Lady Flames got on track. Liberty posted a 12-0 run, opening a 12-5 advantage when Jasmine Gardner canned a layup at the 12:49 mark.
Virginia Union was still within 23-16 with 5:29 remaining in the opening stanza, after Vicki Collier's tip-in. But the Lady Flames then broke the game open for the first time with an ensuing 13-3 burst. Danika Dale's layup with just under a minute to play bolstered Liberty's advantage to 17 points, 36-19.
Liberty then took a 38-23 lead into the locker room, thanks in large part to the play of its reserves.
The Lady Flames tallied 18 bench points during the first 20 minutes of play, led by Kearney's seven points. Warley added eight points and six rebounds before the break for Liberty, which shot 36.4 percent (12-of-33) from the field.
Virginia Union, which was limited to 31.3 percent (10-of-32) field goal shooting in the opening stanza, was led by Wheeler's nine points, five boards and four steals.
Warley hit a trio of layups during Liberty's 8-0 burst to open the second half, pushing the Lady Flames' edge to 46-23.
Wheeler converted an old-fashioned three-point play on Virginia Union's next trip to the offensive end, cutting her team's deficit to 20 points. However, that's as close as the Panthers got the rest of the evening, as Liberty held the visitors to just 14 second-half points.
The Lady Flames' largest lead of the night was their final margin of victory, 45 points (82-37).
Liberty ended the contest at 39.4 percent (26-of-66) field goal shooting and tallied 44 points in the paint. For the third time in the last five games, the Lady Flames held their opponent below 30 percent field goal shooting, with the Panthers finishing at 25.4 percent (16-of-63) from the floor.
Liberty finished with a wide 34-5 cushion in bench points, as all 10 Lady Flames in uniform found the scoring column.
Warley's season-high 22 points enabled her to leapfrog Moriah Frazee and Kristal Tharp on Liberty's all-time scoring list. The Washington, D.C. native now ranks eighth in program history with 1,163 career points.
Warley, who posted her third double-double of the season, also moved into a tie for third place on the Big South Conference career rebounding chart. Warley is now tied with former Radford Highlander Karen Bowles at 1,012 boards.
Gardner scored in double digits for the second game in a row, ending up with 14 points and six boards. Fellow reserve post player Kearney equaled her career high with 11 points, while also contributing eight rebounds, a career-best three blocked shots and a career-high three steals.
Devon Brown narrowly missed out on a double-double, closing the contest with 13 points and nine caroms. Reagan Miller paced all players with seven assists, giving the freshman 15 helpers in her last two games. The Lone Star State native did not make a single turnover in her 26 minutes of work.
For Virginia Union, Wheeler complemented her double-double with a game-high five steals. Reigning CIAA Player of the Week Collier added 11 points and seven boards before fouling out.
Liberty will close out the non-conference portion of its 2011-12 schedule on Tuesday afternoon, when the Lady Flames play at Richmond. Tipoff inside the Robins Center is set for 4 p.m.
Virginia Union will remain on the road for a Saturday non-conference tilt at Mount Olive. The contest will tip off at 4 p.m.