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Zellous Helps No. 22 Pittsburgh Edge Past Liberty To Remain Unbeaten
Pittsburgh is now 12-0 to open the season, after recording its second-consecutive win in Cancun.
The Lady Flames, who were limited to one field goal in the final 10:20 of the game, are now 6-5. Liberty has dropped five of its last six decisions.
The Lady Flames roared out of the gate after the opening tip. Megan Frazee hit a long-range jumper and Rebecca Lightfoot made a three-pointer from the wing within the first 57 seconds of play, giving the Liberty an early, 5-0 lead.
The Lady Flames would not score for the next 6:27, though. In the meantime, Pittsburgh ran off 12-straight points, as four of the Panthers' starters got into the scoring column. Unbeaten Pittsburgh owned a 12-5 advantage after Marcedes Walker's basket at 14:29.
Courtney Watkins came off the bench to post four markers during a Liberty 6-0 burst. Her left-handed lay-up with 10:30 left before halftime cut Pitt's edge to a single point, 12-11.
The Panthers responded with a 9-2 burst to rebuild their advantage to eight points, 21-13. Zellous, who made just three of her 11 first-half field goals, sank one of them at the 5:45 mark to cap the run.
Back-to-back baskets by Moriah Frazee kick-started a 13-3, half-ending surge for the Lady Flames. A Lightfoot three-point play with 1:22 showing on the first-half clock gave Liberty a 26-24 lead, and the margin held at the halftime buzzer.
Megan Frazee paced Liberty with eight first-half points. Moriah Frazee added six points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Walker finished the opening stanza with eight points for the Panthers. Pittsburgh shot just 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from the floor in the first 20 minutes and was outrebounded, 20-16, by the Lady Flames.
The two teams traded baskets to open the second half. Liberty owned a slim, 30-28 lead, before reeling off eight of the contest's next 10 points. Watkins, who tallied four points during the run, lifted her team to a 38-30 advantage on a three-pointer from the corner at 11:42.
Moriah Frazee's lay-up with 10:20 left gave Liberty another eight-point advantage, 40-32. The Lady Flames would only sink one more field goal the rest of the way, however, as Zellous began to find her shooting touch for the Panthers.
An old-fashioned three-point play with 8:59 remaining seemed to ignite Zellous and her teammates. The conversion came in the midst of a 10-0 run which ended with another Zellous hoop at 5:41 and regained the lead for Pittsburgh, 42-40.
Megan Frazee drilled a pair of charity tosses on Liberty's next possession to even the score at 42 with 5:18 left.
The Panthers came right back with four-straight points to retake the lead for good. Zellous' jumper at the 4:17 mark, made it 46-42 in favor of Pitt.
Liberty closed the gap to one point on two occasions. Lightfoot split a pair of charity tosses at 3:36, making the score 46-45. Megan Frazee later connected on a jumper with 2:10 to play, leaving Pittsburgh in front by a 48-47 count.
Frazee's points proved to be the Lady Flames' final tallies of the game, as Liberty committed a pair of turnovers and missed two free throws down the stretch.
The Panthers put the game away with Karlyle Lim's lone field goal of the game, a driving, left-handed lay-up at 1:12 and four Zellous free throws.
After shooting 44 percent (11-of-25) from the floor in the opening half, Liberty slipped to just 31.6 percent (6-of-19) after intermission. The two teams ended up even in the rebounding department, pulling down 34 missed shots apiece.
Megan Frazee finished as Liberty's leading scorer, contributing 16 points to go along with six caroms. Lightfoot added nine tallies, while Moriah Frazee and Watkins each totaled eight points. Moriah Frazee paced the Lady Flames with seven rebounds.
Zellous complemented her 23 points with a team-best seven boards as well as a quartet of assists. Walker added 13 points and five rebounds. Xenia Stewart led all players with seven assists.
Pittsburgh will play its third game in three days on Thursday. The Panthers will square off with No. 4 Duke at 1 p.m. Eastern at the Galactic Ballroom in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Liberty will take some time off for Christmas before returning to action at the Dec. 29-30 Terrapin Classic hosted by Maryland in College Park, Md. The Lady Flames are slated to face Marist in an opening-round contest on Dec. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at the Comcast Center. No. 1 Maryland and UNC Greensboro are the other competitors in the event.