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Warley Leads Liberty Into BSC Championship Game
|Avery Warley contributed 20 points and 22 rebounds to No. 1 seed Liberty's 72-52 victory over No. 5 seed Charleston Southern in the Big South Championship semifinals.|
Avery Warley's history-making 20-point, 22-rebound effort during Saturday afternoon's Big South Women's Basketball Championship semifinal tilt helped No. 1 seed Liberty defeat No. 5 seed Charleston Southern, 72-52.
Warley's 22 rebounds tied the Big South Championship single-game record and were the most ever in a semifinal tilt. The redshirt senior's monster outing contributed largely to Liberty's +26 rebounding edge and 33 second-chance points.
The Lady Flames, who trailed early in the second half before breaking the game open with a 21-2 run, improve to 23-8 on the season. Liberty will make its fifth consecutive championship game appearance Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Millis Center, versus the host team, No. 2 seed High Point.
Charleston Southern's season ends at 17-14 despite a Big South Championship semifinal record 12 made three-pointers on the afternoon.
The two teams went back and forth in the early going, with four lead changes and three ties in the first four minutes of play.
Charleston Southern hit three straight triples during a 9-0 run that put the Lady Buccaneers in front by an 18-12 count at the 13:24 mark.
Liberty did not reclaim the lead until 8:52 remained in the half, when LaKendra Washington closed out a 6-0 burst with a steal and fast break layup to make it 25-23.
The lead changed hands four times during the rest of the opening period, and the Lady Flames held Charleston Southern scoreless for the final 6:48. As a result, Liberty claimed a 31-29 halftime advantage.
Both teams had identical field goal shooting numbers during the first half, as each squad went 11-of-32 for 34.4 percent. Charleston Southern went 7-of-19 from three-point range for 36.8 percent. Meanwhile, Liberty took the only 12 free throw attempts of the opening half, making seven of them for 58.3 percent.
Liberty outrebounded the Lady Buccaneers by a 29-15 count in the first half, converting 16 offensive boards into 16 second-chance points.
Warley singlehandedly pulled down more rebounds than Charleston Southern's team during the first half, collecting 16 boards to go along with nine points. Devon Brown added nine points of her own, while Tolu Omotola added five rebounds and three of the Lady Flames' six blocked shots.
Erin Bratcher hit three triples in a first half which saw her lead the Lady Buccaneers in both points (11) and rebounds (5). Shay Jones added seven points for CSU.
After being held scoreless during the opening 20 minutes, Charleston Southern standout Rachelle Coward tallied seven points in the first two minutes of the second half. Her three-pointer from the top of the key put the Lady Buccaneers in front, 36-33, with 18:11 to play.
Liberty reclaimed the advantage with a 6-0 run, capped off by Omotola's layup at the 14:51 mark that made it 39-36, Lady Flames.
Coward tied things up at 39-all with a three-pointer on CSU's next possession. Liberty then opened a little breathing room with a 9-2 surge. Warley's old-fashioned three-point play at 12:07 punctuated the run, putting the Lady Flames on top, 48-41.
After a triple by the Lady Buccaneers' Shay Jones, Liberty went on its key 21-2 run, bookended by a pair of three-pointers of its own. Reagan Miller got it started with a trifecta at the 10:50 mark, and Washington hit a three-pointer with 2:27 left to put the Lady Flames comfortably in command at 69-46.
Shannon Sanders hit two late triples for the Lady Buccaneers, but it was too little, too late as Liberty closed out its second 20-plus point victory in as many days, 72-52.
Liberty finished the game at 40.9 percent (27-of-66) from the field. Meanwhile, Charleston Southern cooled down to 32.2 percent (19-of-59) after its hot start. The Lady Buccaneers ended up hitting 32.4 percent (12-of-37) of their three-point attempts.
The Lady Flames got to the free throw line 23 times, as compared with only two attempts for CSU. Liberty went 13-of-23 for 56.5 percent, while Charleston Southern hit both of its charity tosses.
In addition to its previously mentioned rebounding numbers, Liberty pulled down 30 offensive boards and outscored Charleston Southern in the paint, 40-14.
Warley's outstanding performance marked the first time in her career that the Washington, D.C., native has exceeded 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game. It was the second time it has ever happened in a Big South Championship game, as Liberty's Wendy Johnson totaled 22 points and 21 rebounds on March 12, 1992 against Coastal Carolina.
Fourteen of Warley's caroms came at the offensive end, tying the program record set way back on Feb. 25, 1978 by Lil Cooper against Ferrum. The double-double was Warley's 14th of the season and the 46th of her career.
Meanwhile, Omotola had the very first double-double of her career, consisting of 11 points and a matching number of rebounds. The redshirt junior also tied a career high with three of the Lady Flames' nine blocked shots.
Brown ended up with 14 points and six rebounds, making her the sixth Lady Flame ever to reach the 1,400-point mark for her career.
Danika Dale made it four Lady Flames in double figures, tallying 10 points, six rebounds, a career high-equaling five steals and four assists. In the process, the senior reached the 500-point and 400-rebound career milestones.
Miller and Washington each had four steals as well, as Liberty totaled 15 team thefts and 20 points off of turnovers.
Jones topped Charleston Southern's trio of double-digit scorers with a dozen points. Bratcher chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds, while Coward had all 10 of her markers after halftime for the Lady Buccaneers.