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No. 24 Texas A&M Staves Off Liberty, 70-55
Liberty played neck and neck with No. 24 Texas A&M for much of Tuesday evening's game at Reed Arena, before the Aggies pulled away late in the second half for a 70-55 victory.
Despite a game-high 23 points from Devon Brown, the Lady Flames fall to 2-2 on the season. Texas A&M, which scored 29 points off of 22 Liberty turnovers, picks up its first win of 2012-13 after losing to a trio of Top 10 teams to start the year. The Aggies are now 1-3.
Texas A&M got off to a fast start, making its first three shots of the game and jumping out to a 6-0 lead within the first 1:20.
Liberty bounced back with a 10-0 run, going in front 10-6 on Tolu Omotola's three-pointer from the top of the key with 15:05 left in the first half.
The Aggies tied the score, 10-10, when Kristi Bellock hit a bank shot from close range with 13:54 on the clock.
The Lady Flames then scored six straight points within a minute, including four by Devon Brown. The redshirt senior's pair of free throws at 12:40 gave the blue-clad Lady Flames a 16-10 edge.
Continuing the back-and-forth nature of the first half, Texas A&M reclaimed the lead (17-16) with a 7-0 run capped off by Adrienne Pratcher's perimeter jumper at the 9:34 mark.
The two teams traded the lead eight times during the next 6:24, with Brown and Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone exchanging hoops for much of the stretch.
Courtney Walker tallied five points to spark a 7-0 burst by the Aggies. The freshman's three-pointer at 2:12 provided the home team with a 30-24 cushion.
Brown's driving layup during the final minute made the halftime score 30-26 in favor of Texas A&M.
Liberty shot 50 percent (10-of-20) from the field during the first half, while the Aggies hit 40 percent (14-of-35) of their field goal attempts. Texas A&M took advantage of a 19-14 rebounding advantage in the first half and forced 10 Liberty turnovers before the intermission.
Brown paced all players with 15 points in the first half, with teammates Omotola and Jasmine Gardner adding four points apiece. Lone Star State native Emily Frazier chipped in three rebounds and a matching number of assists.
Bone topped Texas A&M with eight markers during the opening 20 minutes of action. Bellock and Chelsea Jennings shared first-half honors with four rebounds each.
Tori Scott, who did not play at all during the opening half for Texas A&M, helped her team race out of the gate after the break. She scored five points in the first 52 seconds, initiating an 11-1 run to start the second half. Bone's hoop with 16:16 remaining bolstered the Aggies' lead to 41-27.
Brittany Campbell helped to slow Texas A&M's momentum with three-pointers on back-to-back Liberty possessions. Her second triple made the score 43-33 with 14:18 on the clock.
The Lady Flames kept whittling away at the deficit and pulled to within 47-40 at 11:23, when Katelyn Adams split a pair of free throws.
The Aggies scored seven of the game's next nine points and led 54-42 on Walker's layup at the 9:30 mark.
Brown completed an acrobatic three-point play on Liberty's ensuing possession, trimming the gap back to 54-45.
Texas A&M then broke the game open with a 10-2 surge. A left-handed fast break layup by Bone opened up a 64-47 advantage for the Aggies with 5:08 to play.
Liberty held the Aggies to just two made field goals the rest of the way, but could get no closer and Texas A&M closed out its first victory of the 2012-13 season, 70-55.
The Aggies finished the game shooting 50 percent (32-of-64) from the field. They became the first Liberty opponent since No. 17/17 St. John's on Dec. 28, 2010 to make at least half of its field goal attempts. The Lady Flames had kept 58 straight teams below 50 percent before Tuesday.
Liberty also shot the ball well from the field, making a season-high 44.2 percent (19-of-43) of its field goals on the night.
Both teams struggled from the free throw line, with Liberty hitting 61.9 percent (13-of-21) of its tries and Texas A&M making just 27.3 percent (3-of-11).
The Aggies finished with slight advantages in rebounds (35-30), points in the paint (32-30) and second-chance points (10-8).
Brown's 23 points give her 1,505 for her career. She is the fifth player in program history and 19th player in Big South history to reach the 1,500-point milestone.
Campbell made two of the Lady Flames' four three-pointers on the night while scoring a season-high eight points. Gardner contributed six points and six rebounds. Frazier finished just one assist (7) and one rebound (5) shy of her career highs in those categories.
A trio of Aggies scored in double figures, led by freshman Walker with 20 points. Pratcher and Bone each added a dozen points, with Bone's eight rebounds topping all players.
Liberty will wrap up its challenging Texas road trip Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern, when the Lady Flames play at defending national champion Baylor. The 4-1 Bears are ranked No. 3 nationally in both polls this week.