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Liberty Wraps Up BSC No. 1 Seed on Senior Day

February 25, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Senior Danika Dale contributed seven points and nine rebounds to Liberty's Senior Day victory over Gardner-Webb.
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Liberty raced out to a 31-4 lead in its Senior Day matinee against Gardner-Webb, Saturday at the Vines Center. From there, the Lady Flames cruised to a 76-44 victory, clinching the Big South Conference regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.

The Lady Flames' senior duo of Danika Dale and Avery Warley was recognized prior to tipoff, and both players fared well on Saturday. Warley led all players in both points (18) and rebounds (15), while Dale chipped in seven points and nine boards.

Liberty improves to 19-8 overall and 14-2 in Big South play. The Lady Flames have now won back-to-back Big South regular-season championships and 13 in the last 15 seasons.

Gardner-Webb drops to 3-23 on the season and 2-13 in conference action. The Runnin' Bulldogs are now just 1-15 away from Paul Porter Arena this season.

Gardner-Webb missed its first 18 field goals of the afternoon, before KiKi Smith hit a baseline jumper with 4:34 left in the opening half. By that time, Liberty's lead had gotten as large as 31-4, on Devon Brown's putback hoop at the 8:23 mark.

Smith's previously mentioned hoop cut the Runnin Bulldogs' deficit to 20 points (32-12), capping an 8-1 surge.

Liberty's lead got back to 23 before the Lady Flames took a 38-17 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

The Lady Flames shot 48 percent (12-of-25) from the field during the first half, aided by 18 points in the paint. Meanwhile, Gardner-Webb finished the half at just 11.5 percent (3-of-26).

Both teams spent a lot of time at the foul line during the opening half, combining for 45 free throw attempts. Neither team shot well, though, as Liberty went 50 percent (12-of-24) from the charity stripe, while the Runnin' Bulldogs were 47.6 percent (10-of-21) for the period.

Liberty owned a 30-18 first-half rebounding advantage and scored 11 second-chance points.

Individually, Brown led all players with nine first-half points and teammate Warley added eight. Seniors Warley and Dale grabbed eight and seven rebounds, respectively, before halftime.

Brianna Dillard was Gardner-Webb's top first-half scorer, recording all five of her points at the free throw line.

The Runnin' Bulldogs twice cut their deficit to 18 points early in the second half, including at 42-24 on a Jasmine Dale layup at 16:54.

Brown then bookended a quick 6-0 Liberty burst with a pair of pull-up jumpers, bolstering the Liberty edge back to 48-24 with 15:10 remaining.

Gardner-Webb only trimmed Liberty's lead under 20 points once the rest of the way, making the score 59-40 at the 5:28 mark, when Chariah Harris made a layup.

The Lady Flames outscored the visiting Runnin' Bulldogs by a 17-4 count during the remainder of the game, closing out a regular-season sweep of Gardner-Webb with a 76-44 triumph.

Liberty finished the contest with 46 points in the paint, helping the team shoot 51.8 percent (29-of-56) from the field. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames held Gardner-Webb to 18 percent (9-of-50) field goal shooting.

The Runnin' Bulldogs scored more than half of their points from the foul line, ending up at 61.5 percent (24-of-39) from the charity stripe. Liberty shot 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the line.

Liberty outrebounded Gardner-Webb by a 51-32 count and tallied 21 points in the paint on the afternoon.

Warley's double-double was her 12th of the season and her fifth in a row during head-to-head matchups with Gardner-Webb. She became the first Big South player ever to top 1,200 career rebounds, as the Washington, D.C., native now has 1,209 boards to her credit.

Brown posted 17 points and seven rebounds in a game which saw her surpass Sarah Wilkerson for sixth place on Liberty's career scoring list. The redshirt junior has totaled 1,344 career points.

Point guard Reagan Miller added 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers. She has now hit 49 triples this season, the most by a Liberty freshman since Cynthia Thomson made a school-record 64 three-pointers in 1989-90.

Backcourt mates Dillard and Dale each scored in double figures for Gardner-Webb, finishing with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Dillard notched a dozen points from the foul line, where she went 12-for-18 while tying the Vines Center record for most free throws attempted in a game.

Liberty will return to action Monday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames welcome UNC Asheville to the Vines Center. Liberty will try to complete a regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs, after notching a 78-56 victory at Kimmel Arena on Jan. 28.

Gardner-Webb will travel across the Commonwealth for its final road game of the regular season, Monday at Radford. The Runnin' Bulldogs and Highlanders are set for a 7 p.m. tipoff inside the Dedmon Center.