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Liberty Advances to BSC Semis with 71-50 Win
|Avery Warley led No. 1 seed Liberty to a 71-50 victory over No. 8 seed UNC Asheville during Friday's quarterfinal matchup at the Big South Women's Basketball Championship. Warley totaled 17 points and 13 rebounds on the afternoon.|
No. 1 seed Liberty fashioned a 16-0 run within the first seven minutes of Friday afternoon's matchup with No. 8 seed UNC Asheville inside the Millis Center in High Point, N.C. From there, the Lady Flames cruised to a 71-50 victory in the quarterfinal round of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
The Lady Flames, who were led by Avery Warley's 17 points and 13 rebounds, improve to 22-8 on the season. Liberty advances to the semifinals, where it will match up against No. 5 seed Charleston Southern Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on SportSouth and ESPN3.
Liberty, which also got 10 points apiece from freshmen Catherine Kearney and Reagan Miller, will play in the Big South Championship semifinals for the 16th year in a row.
Asheville's season ends at 7-23, despite Shonese Jones' game-high 20 points. The Bulldogs closed their year with a 12-game losing streak.
Liberty used its 16-0 run to build an early 19-2 advantage. Danika Dale's pair of free throws with 12:55 left in the opening half capped off the Lady Flames' surge.
After Asheville's Lindsey Thompson stopped her team's drought with a long three-pointer, the Lady Flames held the Bulldogs without a made field goal for five minutes. That enabled Liberty to bolster its advantage to 26-7 on Terika Lunsford's jumper from the left corner at 8:42.
The Bulldogs battled back to within 14 points on two occasions, including at 28-14 after Jones hit a layup with 5:21 remaining in the half.
But that was as close as Asheville got for the remainder of the period, and Liberty took a 36-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Liberty shot 43.3 percent (13-of-30) from the field in the first half, as compared with 28.6 percent (6-of-21) for Asheville.
The Lady Flames grabbed 20 rebounds to the Bulldogs' 15 boards before halftime and outscored Asheville in the paint, 16-2.
Liberty forced 13 Asheville turnovers during the first half, which led to 16 points.
Warley topped all players in both points (9) and rebounds (8) before halftime. LaKendra Washington swished a pair of three-pointers for six points, helping Liberty's reserves outscore their counterparts from Asheville, 14-1.
Jones, the Big South Freshman of the Year, led the Bulldogs with eight first-half points, while Kelli Riles corralled six rebounds.
Asheville scored the first four points of the second half, cutting the deficit to 36-24 on Jones' perimeter jumper with 18:19 remaining on the clock.
Liberty then broke the game open with a 19-2 run. The Lady Flames' cushion reached 29 points, 55-26, with 13:09 to play, after Miller hit two foul shots.
Jones' four-point play on the Bulldogs' next trip to the offensive end got an 8-0 run started for her team. Asheville cut it to 55-34 on Riles' layup at 10:50.
Back-to-back jumpers by Kearney helped to stem the tide. Her hoop with 7:47 left kept Liberty in front by a 61-40 count.
The Bulldogs would get to within 17 points, at 65-48, when Jones hit a pull-up jumper in transition at the 2:20 mark.
But Liberty went on to close out a 71-50 victory, running its winning streaks to five games overall and 11 straight contests against the Bulldogs.
Liberty finished the contest at 41 percent (25-of-61) from the field, while also shooting a solid 73.9 percent (17-of-23) from the charity stripe. Asheville countered with 34 percent (17-of-50) on its field goals and 85.7 percent (12-of-14) on foul shots.
The Lady Flames nearly doubled up the Bulldogs in the rebound category, 48-26. Included in Liberty's total were 23 offensive rebounds which led to 20 second-chance points.
Warley's double-double, which came in just 21 minutes of playing time, was the senior's 13th of the season and the 45th of her career.
During the second half, Warley broke Katie Feenstra's program record for most career rebounds during Big South Championship games. Warley has now collected 113 boards in 10 career Big South Championship outings.
Additionally, Warley now ranks No. 3 in program history and No. 4 in Big South history for single-season rebounds with 337.
Kearney's 10 points contributed to Liberty's 25-9 advantage in bench points on the afternoon.
All 10 of Miller's points came during the second half, including a pair of three-pointers. Washington and Dale contributed eight points each, while Dale also grabbed seven rebounds and distributed four assists for the Lady Flames.
In addition to Jones' 20 points, Thompson added 13 markers for the Bulldogs. Riles had a team-high nine rebounds, to go along with eight points.