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Warley Leads Liberty to Comeback Win at CSU
Charleston Southern led by as many as nine points during the first half of Monday evening's Big South contest before visiting Liberty came roaring back. Avery Warley scored 22 of her team and season-high 26 points after halftime, helping the Lady Flames notch a 79-64 come-from-behind victory inside Buccaneer Fieldhouse.
Liberty, which put four of its starters into double figures in the scoring column, went on a 16-0 run midway through the second half to take the lead for good. The Lady Flames' third straight win makes them 9-7 overall and gives them sole possession of second place in the Big South standings at 4-1.
Charleston Southern drops to 11-6 overall and 4-2 in the Big South despite an incredible individual effort by Rachelle Coward. She scored 23 of her career-high 32 points after halftime and made nine three-pointers, setting a new record for a Liberty opponent.
Liberty got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 4-0 advantage in the first 48 seconds of the game, thanks to a Warley layup and two Devon Brown free throws.
The Buccaneers came back to tie it up at 4-all at the 18:20 mark, after two Lakeitha Alston hoops. CSU would tie the score two more times, before Liberty pushed its advantage back to 13-9 when Reagan Miller split a pair of free throws at 11:43.
Charleston Southern then took its first lead of the night during an ensuing 15-2 run which featured three triples. Abby Wharton's basket from close range at the 4:19 mark put the homestanding Buccaneers in front, 24-15.
CSU still owned a nine-point lead before the Lady Flames closed the opening half on a 6-0 run during the final 1:18. Brown bookended the spurt with baskets, including a layup as the halftime buzzer sounded that made the score 26-23, Buccaneers.
After shooting 78.3 percent from the floor during the first half of Saturday's win at Coastal Carolina, Liberty hit only 32 percent (8-of-25) of its first-half field goals Monday evening. Meanwhile, Charleston Southern shot 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from the field, with four of its baskets coming from three-point range.
Liberty owned a pronounced rebounding advantage during the first half, 24-9, but the Buccaneers scored 17 points off of the Lady Flames' 13 opening-half turnovers.
Brown led all players in the first 20 minutes with 11 points, while Warley collected a half-leading six rebounds for the Lady Flames.
Coward scored a team-high nine points for the Buccaneers in the first half, all of which came on three-pointers. Alston chipped in eight markers.
Liberty was able to tie the score three times during the first two minutes of the second half, but Coward single-handedly kept the Lady Flames from reclaiming the lead. She scored 15 points during the first 5:13 of the second half, including a three-pointer with 14:47 on the clock that gave CSU a 41-35 edge.
The Lady Flames then countered with an 8-0 run, taking their first lead since 15-14 on Brown's three-pointer from the left wing with 12:59 remaining. Her trifecta made the score 43-41 in favor of the red-clad visitors.
CSU went right back in front, 45-43, after a Coward jumper and a layup by Alston. Alston's basket ended a string where she scored the Buccaneers' first 17 points of the second period.
The Buccaneers owned a 48-45 edge before Liberty went on their decisive 16-0 tear. Warley scored six points during the run, including a layup at the 7:11 mark which gave Liberty a 61-48 advantage.
Coward wasn't done, as two more three-pointers made it 63-54 with 6:24 showing on the second-half clock.
The Lady Flames took another 13-point bulge (67-54) when Warley hit a pair of free throws at 5:35.
But Charleston Southern kept battling and cut its deficit to seven, 71-64, on Shay Jones' triple with 1:40 to play.
Liberty then closed out its 29th win in its last 30 games against Charleston Southern, a 79-64 victory, by shooting eight-for-eight from the foul line the rest of the way. The Lady Flames also improve to 44-6 in their 50 all-time meetings with the Buccaneers.
The Lady Flames racked up 56 points during the second half and dominated numerous statistical categories after halftime. Liberty shot 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field after the break and 94.4 percent (17-of-18) from the foul line. Liberty also outrebounded the Buccaneers 20-6 in the second half, with Warley grabbing seven boards by herself after the break.
For the game, Liberty owned a slight advantage over CSU from the field, shooting 47.3 percent (26-of-55) to the Buccaneers' 46 percent (23-of-50).
Charleston Southern racked up 13 three-pointers on the night, but the Lady Flames countered with a season-best 79.3 percent clip from the foul line, making 23-of-29 attempts.
Liberty closed the contest with a 44-15 rebounding advantage, a 34-12 edge in points in the paint and a 25-5 cushion in second-chance points.
Warley's 26-point evening featured a career-best 12-of-12 showing from the foul line. She also completed her sixth double-double of the season with a game-high 13 rebounds.
Brown added 18 points, moving past Kristal Tharp and Moriah Frazee and into ninth place in program history. The redshirt junior now has 1,163 career points.
Tolu Omotola had 13 of her season-high 15 points after halftime and added eight rebounds.
Miller contributed a dozen points, including three triples, while Danika Dale led the victors in both assists (5) and blocked shots (2).
For Charleston Southern, Coward scored over 30 points for the third time in her last seven outings.
She was aided by Alston, who finished with 17 points for the Buccaneers.
Liberty will return to the Vines Center for its next two games, beginning with a matinee against Presbyterian College on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. for the clash between the Lady Flames and Blue Hose.
Charleston Southern's next contest will also take place on Saturday, when the Buccaneers head to Campbell for a 1 p.m. tipoff.