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Liberty Posts First-Ever Victory at James Madison
The Liberty women's basketball team made a bit of program history Tuesday evening at the JMU Convocation Center, recording its first-ever victory at James Madison, 60-48. Winless in five previous trips to Harrisonburg, the Lady Flames utilized a stifling defense and excellent foul shooting to secure the win.
Liberty limited the Dukes to a season-low 26.8 (15-of-56) field goal percentage, including just 21.2 percent (7-of-33) after halftime. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames had one of the best free throw shooting performances in program history on Tuesday. They made 90 percent (18-of-20) of their foul shots, falling just shy of the school single-game record of 94.7 percent (18-of-19), set against UMBC on March 5, 1994.
Playing just 30 miles from her hometown of Waynesboro, Devon Brown led the way for the Lady Flames, who improve to 5-3 with their third consecutive victory. The redshirt senior scored a game-high 22 points, connecting on all nine of her foul shots.
James Madison is now 3-5 and has now lost back-to-back non-conference home games for the first time since 1993-94.
James Madison got off to a good start, holding the Lady Flames without a made field goal for the first five minutes of play, as the Dukes opened a 7-2 lead to open the game.
Despite some cold shooting early in the contest, Liberty battled back to tie the score at 14-all at the 8:09 mark, after consecutive made triples by LaKendra Washington and Reagan Miller.
Three minutes later, another three-pointer, this one by Emily Frazier in transition, gave the blue-clad Lady Flames their first lead of the night at 19-17.
Liberty put together a 10-2 surge late in the half, taking a 33-23 advantage on Frazier's driving left-handed layup at the 15-second mark.
The Lady Flames' halftime lead stood at 33-24, despite the fact that Liberty shot just 34.4 percent (11-of-32) from the field before the intermission.
Fortunately for the Lady Flames, they limited the homestanding Dukes to 34.8 percent (8-of-23) field goal shooting in the first half. Liberty also shot well from three-point range (5-of-10) and made all six of its foul shots.
The Lady Flames won the first-half rebounding battle, 23-15, and got 13 points from their bench players.
Brown paced Liberty during the first half, tallying nine points and four rebounds. Frazier added seven points, while Jasmine Gardner led all players with six boards during the first 20 minutes.
Tarik Hislop's seven points topped James Madison's players before halftime. Teammate Kirby Burkholder grabbed three rebounds.
JMU only made one field goal during the first 4:30 of the second half, enabling Liberty to build a pair of 12-point leads. The Lady Flames were in front 42-30 when Brown made two free throws at 14:57.
Precious Hall and Nikki Newman connected on three-pointers on back-to-back James Madison possessions, pulling the home team to within 44-36 with 13:19 to play.
Liberty then used free throw shooting to maintain its edge, scoring seven of its next nine points from the charity stripe. The Lady Flames were in front by a 53-42 count after Brown's pair of foul shots with 3:58 on the clock.
Brown's connections started a game-sealing 9-0 surge for the Lady Flames. By the time the run finished with just 59.4 seconds remaining, Liberty held its largest lead of the evening, 60-42.
James Madison hit two triples during the final minute, but it was too little, too late. Liberty came away with a 60-48 road victory.
Liberty made just 35.3 percent (18-of-51) of its field goals on the evening, but was buoyed by six made three-pointers. The Lady Flames also won the rebounding battle by a 42-35 margin and finished with a season-low 16 turnovers.
Brown, who grabbed six rebounds to complement her scoring output, moved into 15th place in Big South history with 1,591 career points. She has now connected on 18 consecutive free throws during her last two outings.
Frazier scored in double figures for the second time this season, ending the game with 10 points for the Lady Flames. Backcourt mate and fellow Texan Miller set season highs for points (8) and assists (5), while tying her career high with four rebounds. Frazier and Miller nailed two three-pointers apiece.
Gardner chipped in five points and a game-high nine rebounds for head coach Carey Green's squad.
Hislop, the CAA's leading scorer, topped JMU with a dozen points. However, she shot just 5-of-22 from the field. Newman made three of the Dukes' six triples as part of a 10-point evening. Toia Giggetts contributed a team-leading seven rebounds.
Liberty will now prepare for a four-game homestand at the Vines Center, which will begin Saturday at 7 p.m. with the Lady Flames' first-ever contest against UNC Wilmington. The Seahawks, who went 20-13 last season and played in the WNIT, are off to a 1-4 start in 2012-13.
Meanwhile, James Madison will not play again until Dec. 16, when the Dukes travel to Duquesne for a 2 p.m. tipoff.