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Liberty Rally Falls Short at Richmond
Liberty used a furious rally to cut a 21-point second-half deficit to six, Tuesday afternoon at Richmond. However, the Spiders hung on to post a 66-54 win over the Lady Flames inside the Robins Center.
Liberty had cut a 48-27 deficit to 56-50 with 4:16 remaining. However, Rachael Bilney's three-pointer at the 2:49 mark halted the Lady Flames' momentum and sent the Spiders on their way to their third straight victory.
Richmond improves to 9-2 on the season and 20-3 all-time against the Lady Flames. Meanwhile, Liberty sees its two-game winning streak snapped and closes the non-conference portion of its schedule at 5-6.
After Devon Brown opened the scoring on a layup just five seconds in, Richmond countered with nine straight points, including four by Genevieve Okoro. Okoro's jumper from the paint at 17:23 put the Spiders in front, 9-2.
Liberty cut the deficit to two, 9-7, after Reagan Miller's three-pointer from the right wing at the 16:43 mark capped a 5-0 burst.
But Richmond remained in front until Brown wrapped up a 7-0 Liberty surge with an old-fashioned three-point play at 12:38. Her conversion gave the Lady Flames a 17-15 advantage.
Abby Oliver helped the Spiders quickly reclaim the edge, scoring six straight points during her team's ensuing 12-0 run. A three-point play by Keri Soppe 7:52 before halftime gave Richmond its first double-digit lead, 27-17.
The Lady Flames were within nine points (30-21) before Richmond closed the opening stanza on an 11-1 surge. As a result, the Spiders took a 41-22 lead at halftime.
Richmond shot the ball very well during the first half, hitting 53.1 percent (17-of-32) of its field goal attempts, including 50 percent (3-of-6) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Liberty hit just 30.8 percent (8-of-26) from the field and only 11.1 percent (1-of-9) from beyond the three-point arc.
Even though the Lady Flames entered the game ranked No. 3 nationally in rebound margin, Richmond owned an 18-12 advantage on the glass before the break and scored six second-chance points.
Both teams had a player score 13 first-half points. For the Lady Flames, Brown tallied 13 points in the period, while Oliver did the honors for Richmond.
Avery Warley collected five rebounds during the first half for Liberty, while Soppe's four boards paced the Spiders.
Brown scored the first three points of the second half, trimming the deficit to 41-25 on a free throw with 18:44 to play.
Liberty went nearly five minutes without making a field goal, enabling the home team to bolster its advantage to 48-27 when Becca Wann hit a layup at 16:10.
Catherine Kearney highlighted the Lady Flames' ensuing 12-2 surge with five straight points. Warley's three-point play with 8:47 on the second-half clock pulled red-clad Liberty to within 11, 50-39.
A few minutes later, Liberty used a 7-0 run to cut the gap to 56-50. Warley scored six points during the run, including a layup at 4:16 to close the run.
Bilney's aforementioned clutch triple, Richmond's only made three-pointer of the second half in 12 tries, proved to be the decisive blow.
Liberty didn't score again until LaKendra Washington hit a contested bank shot with 31.8 seconds to play.
By that time, Richmond, the nation's top-ranked free throw shooting team, was in the midst of putting the game away at the charity stripe. The Spiders made seven of eight free throws in the final 84 seconds, sealing their 66-54 win.
Liberty finished the contest shooting 32.1 percent (18-of-56) from the field, with 30 points in the paint. However, the Lady Flames made only one of 18 three-point tries for 5.6 percent.
Liberty did a good job of getting to the foul line during the second half, making 75 percent (12-of-16) of its foul shots after the intermission. For the game, the Lady Flames ended up at 65.4 percent (17-of-26).
Richmond cooled off at the offensive end in the second half, hitting only 19.2 percent (5-of-26) of its field goals and 8.3 percent (1-of-12) of its triples. The Spiders finished the contest with a 37.9 percent (22-of-58) field goal percentage and 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from behind the arc.
Liberty outrebounded its host during the second half, 26-19, giving the Lady Flames a slim 38-37 edge on the glass for the game.
Brown ended up with a game-high 17 points for the Lady Flames. As a result, the redshirt junior overtook Cynthia Thomson for 13th place in program history with 1,061 career points.
Warley chipped in with 16 points, 13 of which game during the second half. That offensive effort, highlighted by an 8-of-10 afternoon from the foul line, moved Warley into seventh place in program history with 1,179 career points.
Warley also corralled a game-high nine rebounds, leaving her just 12 boards shy of equaling Katie Feenstra's program record of 1,033 career rebounds.
Richmond senior Oliver led all players with 23 points, making all 10 of her free throws. That equaled the best single-game free throw shooting effort ever by an opposing player against the Lady Flames.
Wann came off the bench for a career-high 14 points and tied Soppe for the team lead with six rebounds. Bilney made it three Spiders in double figures, closing the game with 10 markers.
With the non-conference portion of its schedule now complete, the Lady Flames will now begin defense of their Big South regular-season championship. Liberty's 18-game conference slate will open Dec. 31 at 4:30 p.m. at Radford.