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3-Point Shooting, Defense Lead Liberty Past UNCW
Liberty made a season-high 11 three-pointers and held visiting UNCW to eight second-half points, enabling the Lady Flames to record an 84-34 victory, Saturday evening inside the Vines Center.
The Lady Flames' 11 triples equaled the most they have ever made at the Vines Center and fell just one shy of their school single-game record of 12. Devon Brown and Reagan Miller, two of Liberty's four double-digit scorers, led the outside shooting barrage with three trifectas apiece.
Meanwhile, Liberty held the Seahawks to 22.2 percent (12-of-54) field goal shooting on the night, including just 4 percent (1-of-25) after halftime. As a result, the Lady Flames push their record to 6-3 with their second win over a CAA opponent this week. Liberty has now won four straight games overall and 12 consecutive home games.
UNCW, coming off of a 20-win season and an appearance in the Postseason WNIT, drops to 1-6 to start the 2012-13 campaign. The Seahawks have lost three games in a row.
Both teams shot the ball well to start the game, combining for 24 points before the under-16:00 media timeout. Tawanna Lee's three-pointer gave UNCW a 9-7 advantage at the 16:35 mark.
Liberty countered with an 8-0 surge, bookended by Brown three-pointers. Her triple at 15:16 put the Lady Flames in front by a 15-9 score.
Jessica Freeman helped the Seahawks stay close, and her triple with 8:09 left on the first-half clock closed the gap to 21-17.
UNCW was within 10 points just before halftime, before the Lady Flames broke the game open with an 18-0 run spanning both halves. Brown got the burst started with a putback off of her own miss, five seconds before the intermission. The hoop gave Liberty a 38-26 halftime cushion.
The Lady Flames shot extremely well during the first half, hitting 53.8 percent (14-of-26) of their field goal attempts, including 71.4 percent (5-of-7) from three-point range. UNCW checked in at 37.9 percent (11-of-29) from the floor, making 42.9 percent (3-of-7) of their three-point tries.
Liberty controlled the paint before halftime, leading UNCW in rebounds (19-12), points in the paint (16-10) and second-chance points (6-0).
Brown's 10 first-half points paced the Lady Flames, while Miller scored eight tallies off of the bench.
The Seahawks' Freeman tallied 11 points before halftime to lead all players, while Karneshia Garrett collected a team-best four rebounds.
The Lady Flames connected on three triples during their 16-0 run to open the second half, but it was a layup by Tolu Omotola which capped the prolonged surge. Her basket at 15:57 lifted the Liberty lead to 54-26.
UNCW got no closer than 26 points the rest of the night, and Liberty's lead reached 50 points (84-34) on the Lady Flames' 11th three-pointer of the game, a LaKendra Washington triple with 18 seconds left. It was Liberty's largest margin of victory since a 116-65 triumph over Glenville State on Dec. 10, 2011.
Liberty finished the game shooting a season-best 48.5 percent (32-of-66) from the field and a sizzling 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from behind the three-point arc.
The Lady Flames dominated most statistical categories for the game, highlighted by rebounds (50-29), points in the paint (40-10), second-chance points (19-0) and bench points (32-5). Liberty also committed a season-low 12 turnovers.
Omotola scored 11 of her game-high 18 points after halftime and was one of six different Lady Flames to connect on a three-pointer. Brown chipped in 17 points, moving into 13th place in Big South history with 1,608 career markers.
Miller ended the contest with a season-high 11 points, while backcourt mate Emily Frazier added 10 points and four assists.
Liberty got solid production from its freshmen, as Ashley Rininger totaled eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds while Sadalia Ellis topped the Lady Flames in assists (5) and steals (3).
Freeman was the lone Seahawk to score in double figures, ending up with 13 points. Garrett, ranked No. 11 nationally in rebounding, grabbed a team-best eight rebounds.
Liberty will now play three home games in five days, starting with a Thursday matchup against the Bluefield State Lady Blues (1-2). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center.
UNCW will have 10 days off from competition before the Seahawks' next game, a Dec. 18 contest at Xavier.