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Post Players Push Liberty Past Bluefield State
Liberty's post players (Katelyn Adams, Jasmine Gardner, Tolu Omotola and Ashley Rininger) keyed the Lady Flames' fifth consecutive win, Thursday evening at the Vines Center. The quartet combined for 48 points, 39 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Lady Flames' 82-46 triumph over Bluefield State.
Liberty never trailed during its 13th straight home victory, improving to 7-3 on the season. Bluefield State, which made its first visit to Lynchburg since Nov. 29, 1984, remains at 2-2 with the NCAA Division II Lady Blues classifying the contest as an exhibition.
Gardner scored six points during Liberty's 12-2 game-opening run. The junior's putback hoop at 16:10 gave the Lady Flames their first double-digit lead of the game, at 12-2.
Two triples by Charlene Diggs pulled the Lady Blues to within 16-8, 13:52 before halftime.
Liberty countered with eight straight points, boosting their advantage to 24-8 at the 12:20 mark, on Adams' second-chance basket.
Adams scored 10 consecutive Liberty points, capped off by a layup at 8:17 which made the score 32-11, Lady Flames.
Layups by Tasia Nolan and Charity Harris on consecutive possessions trimmed Liberty's advantage to 34-15, with 6:00 left on the first-half clock.
Gardner punctuated Liberty's ensuing 9-0 surge with a layup, bolstering the home team's edge to 43-15 at the 3:36 mark.
The Lady Flames' lead got as large as 31 points (51-20), before Liberty took a 51-22 cushion into the locker room at halftime.
Liberty hit 47.4 percent (18-of-38) of its first-half field goal attempts, even though it misfired on all eight three-point tries. Bluefield State made a trio of three-pointers among its eight made field goals during the opening stanza. The Lady Blues finished the half at 24.2 percent (8-of-33) shooting from the floor.
Head coach Carey Green's Lady Flames won the first-half rebounding battle (31-19), while leading the way in points in the paint (30-10) and scoring 25 points off of Bluefield State's 18 turnovers.
Three of Liberty's post players scored in double figures in the first half, led by Adams' 12 points. The redshirt freshman also completed a double-double during the first 20 minutes, pulling down 10 boards. Omotola (11 points) and Gardner (10 points) also reached double digits for the half.
Harris was Bluefield State's scoring leader in the first half, tallying eight points. Diggs pulled down a team-high four rebounds.
Neither team made a field goal in the second half until Emily Frazier's driving, left-handed layup fell through the net at the 15:47 mark. Her basket was part of a 9-0 Liberty run, which ended when LaKendra Washington's layup made the score 63-24 with 13:25 left.
The Lady Blues used a trio of three-pointers, including two by Shay Gravely, to battle back to within 69-36 at the 8:12 mark.
Bluefield State's final points of the evening, coming on a layup by Shae Mebane with 2:26 left, cut the visitors' deficit to 78-46.
Ellee Rollins, who scored 10 of Liberty's last 11 points to end the game, then closed out the scoring with a pair of jump shots. The Lady Flames went over the 80-point mark for the second straight game and the third time this season, finishing with an 82-46 triumph.
Despite shooting 0-of-11 from three-point range, Liberty finished at a solid 46.8 percent (29-of-62) from the field on the night. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames held their third straight opponent below 30 percent field goal shooting. Bluefield State connected on 21.9 percent (14-of-64) from the field, with half of the Lady Blues' made shots coming from beyond the three-point arc.
Liberty established season highs for free throws made (24) and attempted (36). The Lady Flames also owned considerable advantages in rebounds (57-35), points in the paint (46-14), points off turnovers (35-14), second-chance points (21-9) and bench points (36-14).
Omotola led all players with 17 points, while adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots. The redshirt senior is now averaging 16.6 ppg during five home games this season.
Adams' first career double-double consisted of career-high point (13) and rebound (12) totals. She tied classmate Ashley Rininger for game-high rebounding honors, as Rininger's dozen boards also established a career high. Adams and Rininger rejected two shots apiece.
The Lady Flames' final post player, Gardner contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. She also blocked a shot, helping Liberty tally a season-high eight blocks.
Rollins scored in double figures for the first time in her career, tallying 10 points in just seven minutes of action off the Liberty bench.
Harris was the lone Bluefield State player to score in double digits, ending the contest with 13 points. Diggs contributed nine points, a team-best five rebounds and made three of her team's seven three-pointers.
Liberty will continue its four-game homestand on Saturday at 2 p.m., when North Carolina A&T (4-3) visits the Vines Center. The Lady Flames will look to avenge an 81-74 defeat at North Carolina A&T last season, on Nov. 18, 2011.
Bluefield State will return home to host the Herb Sims Classic, Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow evening, the Lady Blues will take on West Virginia Tech at 8 p.m.