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Liberty Derails Winthrop, 74-49
|Terika Lunsford contributed a career-high 11 points to Liberty's 74-49 win over Winthrop Monday evening.|
Winthrop entered the Vines Center Monday evening as one of the Big South Conference's hottest teams, averaging 76.5 ppg during a four-game winning streak. However, Liberty held the Eagles to a season-low scoring output and put four players into double figures in a 74-49 triumph.
The Lady Flames, who have now won a season-best five games in a row, improve to 11-7 on the season and 6-1 in Big South play. Liberty remains in sole possession of second place in the Big South standings, one game behind High Point.
Winthrop, which shot just 25 percent (17-of-68) from the field, drops to 10-9 overall and 4-3 in the Big South. The Eagles have now been held below 60 points in 24 straight matchups with the Lady Flames.
Winthrop used three-pointers by Samiya Wright and Dequesha McClanahan to jump out to a 6-2 lead in the first 2:07 of the contest.
The Lady Flames responded with a 15-2 run, with Devon Brown scoring the final four points of the surge. Her pair of free throws gave Liberty a 17-8 advantage with 13:23 left in the opening half.
The visiting Eagles again used the three-point shot during an ensuing 10-2 burst. Diana Choibekova's trifecta from the left corner at 10:51 cut Liberty's lead to a single point at 19-18.
Liberty, which had missed its first eight three-point attempts of the game, got back-to-back triples from Reagan Miller and Brown to cap a 12-0 run. Brown's three-pointer from in front of the Winthrop bench put the Lady Flames' lead at 31-18 at the 6:06 mark.
McClanahan swished a long triple on Winthrop's next possession to make it 31-21. However, the Eagles managed only one more made field goal during the rest of the first half. As a result, Liberty bolstered its advantage to 41-25 at the intermission, holding Winthrop to its lowest-scoring half since Dec. 31 at Coastal Carolina.
Liberty shot 45.9 percent (17-of-37) from the field in the first half, while limiting Winthrop to 23.5 percent (8-of-34). The Eagles did hit five first-half three-pointers, but it took them 16 tries to do so for 31.3 percent.
Winthrop outrebounded Liberty in the first half, 25-21, but the Lady Flames owned decisive advantages in both points in the paint (26-2) and points off turnovers (15-0).
Brown paced Liberty with 11 points during the first 20 minutes, while Avery Warley chipped in eight points and seven rebounds. Miller distributed five assists before the break.
McClanahan, the Big South's leading scorer, provided a half-best 14 points for Winthrop. Taylor Calvert added a team-leading five rebounds.
It took four minutes for Winthrop to score its first points of the second half. During the meantime, Liberty boosted its lead to 47-25 when a second-chance hoop by Tolu Omotola finished off a 6-0 half-opening surge.
The Eagles reeled off the game's next eight points, including consecutive triples by Choibekova. The junior's connection from the top of the key at the 14:25 mark made the score 47-33 in favor of the Lady Flames.
Winthrop continued to chip away at its deficit, making it 52-41 when McClanahan went 2-for-2 from the free throw line with 10:23 left.
The Eagles were within 13 (58-45) before Liberty put the game out of reach with a 14-0 run during a 5:40 scoreless drought by Winthrop. Brown's layup gave the Lady Flames a 72-45 cushion with just 2:31 remaining on the second-half clock.
Liberty went on to close out a 74-49 victory, winning its 20th straight home game against the Eagles.
The Lady Flames shot 42.6 percent (29-of-68) from the field for the game, with 22 of their made baskets coming from inside the paint.
Winthrop relied heavily upon three-point shooting, making seven of its 34 tries for 20.6 percent.
The Lady Flames finished the game with a slim 47-44 edge on the boards, outrebounding their 45th straight opponent dating back to last season.
Brown led the Lady Flames with 18 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds. During the first half, she passed Ginny Holloway for seventh place on Liberty's career scoring list. The Waynesboro, Va., native has now scored 1,194 career points.
Warley fashioned her seventh double-double of the season, consisting of 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Fellow senior Danika Dale added a dozen points and nine rebounds before fouling out.
Terika Lunsford came off of coach Carey Green's bench to give Liberty a spark in the second half, tallying seven of her career-high 11 points after the intermission. Lunsford helped Liberty's bench outscore Winthrop's reserves by a 17-0 count.
Miller finished the evening with eight assists for the Lady Flames, equaling her career high.
For Winthrop, McClanahan played all 40 minutes, tallying a game-high 20 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Choibekova, the nation's leader in three-point field goals made, added four to her season total on Monday as part of a 14-point effort. However, it took her a Big South single-game-record 23 three-point attempts to get there.
Calvert finished as Winthrop's leading rebounder, collecting eight caroms.
Liberty will play its next four games in North Carolina, beginning with the Lady Flames' first-ever contest at UNC Asheville's brand-new Kimmel Arena on Saturday. Tipoff is slated at 2 p.m. for the 50th all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and Bulldogs.
Winthrop will return home for a matchup against High Point on Saturday. The game is set to tip off at 2 p.m. inside the Winthrop Coliseum.