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Brown Leads Successful Comeback at Asheville
After Liberty trailed by three points at halftime of Saturday afternoon's contest at UNC Asheville, Devon Brown took over during the second half. The redshirt junior scored 18 of her game-high 25 points during the final 20 minutes of play, helping the Lady Flames come away with a 78-56 victory inside Kimmel Arena.
Liberty's season-best sixth straight victory lifts the team's overall record to 12-7. The Lady Flames remain one game behind Big South leader High Point with a 7-1 conference mark.
Brown was a big reason why Liberty was victorious on Saturday, playing one of the best overall games of her career. In addition to her 25 points, Brown contributed nine rebounds, a career-high six assists and a career high-tying five steals.
Liberty became the first visiting Big South women's basketball team ever to come away from Kimmel Arena, while also extending a couple other streaks. The Lady Flames have won nine straight contests against the Bulldogs overall and 15 straight road games against Asheville.
Despite a 19-point contest by freshman Shonese Jones, the Bulldogs drop to 7-12 overall and 3-5 in conference play. Asheville also falls to 7-43 in 50 all-time meetings with the Lady Flames.
Freshmen scored the game's first 10 points, as homestanding Asheville jumped out to an early advantage. Leah Wormack's hoop from close range at 17:23 put the Bulldogs in front, 7-3.
The theme of freshmen continued as Catherine Kearney scored five straight Liberty points. Her putback layup with 15:22 left in the first half gave the Lady Flames their first lead of the game, 10-9.
The Bulldogs countered with an 8-1 spurt, retaking a 17-11 advantage after back-to-back three-pointers by Lindsey Thompson and Jones, yet another rookie.
Asheville still held a 19-14 edge before Liberty went on a 6-0 spurt. Danika Dale's pair of made free throws at 8:08 gave the Lady Flames another short-lived lead, at 20-19.
The Bulldogs reeled off nine straight points, taking their largest advantage of the game (28-20) on a Kelli Riles layup with 3:05 remaining.
A 7-0 Liberty run, which culminated with Kearney's free throw at the 17.1-second mark, brought the Lady Flames to within one, 28-27.
However, Jones drove through the Liberty defense for a layup during the closing seconds of the period, giving the home team a 30-27 halftime edge and closing out a 17-point opening half for Asheville's standout freshman.
Liberty shot just 27.6 percent (8-of-29) from the field during the first half, while Asheville checked in at 39.4 percent (13-of-33).
The Lady Flames got to the foul line a lot more often than their host during the first 20 minutes, shooting 10-of-16 for 62.5 percent. Asheville was just 1-of-3 for 33.3 percent.
Liberty outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 26-19 margin in the first half but committed 15 turnovers. Asheville converted those miscues into 17 points.
Brown led the Lady Flames with seven first-half points, while Kearney chipped in six points and a half-best six rebounds.
Wormack complemented Jones' 17 points with four of her own. Riles led the Bulldogs with five rebounds in the first half.
The two teams traded hoops during the opening minute of the second half before Liberty went on a 10-0 run, taking a 39-32 lead after two Dale free throws at 16:35.
Asheville pulled to within fourn, 41-37, on a long three-pointer by Thompson with 14:53 to play. The Lady Flames then fashioned an 8-0 surge. Avery Warley hit a free throw at 12:23 to make it 49-37, Liberty.
The Bulldogs got back to within single digits, 51-42, when Tacey Trammell swished a triple from the left wing with 10:44 on the clock.
But Liberty tallied the next five points and led by double figures the rest of the way. The Lady Flames' final margin of victory, 22 points (78-56), equaled their largest lead of the afternoon. It was Liberty's third straight win by 20 or more points and their fifth during the team's current six-game winning streak.
Liberty played a solid second half, scoring 51 points on 60 percent (18-of-30) field goal shooting and 80 percent (12-of-15) free throw marksmanship. The Lady Flames won the second-half rebounding battle, 22-14, and held Jones to just two points after the break.
For the game, Liberty finished at 44.1 percent (26-of-59) from the field, compared to Asheville's 35.8 percent (24-of-67). There was a large discrepancy at the free throw line, where the Lady Flames hit 22-of-31 for 71 percent. The Bulldogs went 2-of-5 for 40 percent.
Liberty's final rebounding advantage was 15, 48-33, and the Lady Flames tallied 22 second-chance points.
Brown's 25 points equaled her season high, set Jan. 9 against Campbell. She became the seventh Lady Flame ever to score more than 1,200 career points, finishing the contest at 1,219. Brown also distributed all of her six assists after halftime and came up with three of her five steals in the second half.
Tolu Omotola also played a strong second half, notching 10 of her 11 points after the intermission.
Warley ended up with seven points, halting her streak of 13 straight games scoring in double digits. She did lead all players in both rebounds (11) and blocked shots (3) though. With her 11 boards, the Washington, D.C., native is just the second Big South player to grab 1,100 career rebounds. Warley closed the game with 1,105 career caroms.
LaKendra Washington made a positive return to action after missing the previous three games due to injury. She contributed nine points off the bench, equaled her career high with four assists and came up with two steals.
Jones closed the contest with 19 points to top three Bulldogs who reached double figures in the scoring column. Wormack contributed 11 markers, while Thompson added 10.
Riles, ranked No. 5 nationally in rebounding, came up with a team-high eight boards on Saturday. Trammell came off the bench to total a game-high seven assists for the home team.
Liberty will continue its swing through North Carolina Monday evening, when the Lady Flames head to Gardner-Webb. The rematch of the last three Big South Championship title contests will tip off at 7 p.m. inside Paul Porter Arena.
UNC Asheville will wrap up a three-game homestand Monday at 7 p.m., when Radford visits Kimmel Arena.