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North Carolina A&T Halts Liberty's Streaks
Showing no signs of rust after a two-week layoff from competition, Amber Calvin and the North Carolina A&T Aggies posted a 60-56 victory at Liberty, Saturday afternoon. Calvin scored a game-high 21 points for the Aggies, who snapped the Lady Flames' home winning streak at 13 games and Liberty's overall streak at five straight wins.
North Carolina A&T, which had not played since opening MEAC play with a 67-27 win over North Carolina Central on Dec. 1, improves to 5-3. The Aggies never trailed during the contest, as they defeated the Lady Flames for the second straight year.
Liberty drops to 7-4 with its first loss since a 92-60 setback at No. 3/3 Baylor on Nov. 23, despite a season-high 11 points and a career-high nine assists from point guard Emily Frazier. The Lady Flames had not lost at home since dropping a 73-69 overtime decision to High Point on Jan. 7, 2012.
North Carolina A&T scored the first five points of the game, within the first two minutes of play. Liberty came back to knot the score at 5-5 on Devon Brown's three-pointer from the left wing at the 17:28 mark.
However, the Lady Flames went scoreless for the next 8:26. Fortunately for Liberty, the Aggies only scored six points of their own during that time. Calvin's pair of free throws with 12:28 on the clock gave the visitors an 11-5 lead.
Liberty turned up the defensive pressure, enabling the Lady Flames to tie the score at 13-13, 6:40 before halftime, on a pair of Brown free throws.
The Lady Flames also knotted things up at 15, 17 and 19, before North Carolina A&T closed out the half with a 14-4 spurt, highlighted by Calvin. The redshirt junior guard drained four triples during the last 3:27 of the half, enabling the Aggies to build a 33-23 halftime lead.
North Carolina A&T shot 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the field in the first half, including 55.6 percent (5-of-9) on three-pointers. Conversely, Liberty only made 25.8 percent (8-of-31) of its first-half field goal tries and just 11.1 percent (1-of-9) of its three-point attempts.
Liberty outrebounded the Aggies in the first half, 23-13, and came up with six steals during the first 20 minutes of play.
Brown's five points paced the Lady Flames' first-half scoring, while Frazier dished out five assists before the intermission.
Calvin's 17 points topped all players during the opening stanza, with teammate Nikia Gorham chipping in eight markers.
Gorham's putback hoop 3:28 into the second half bolstered the Aggies' advantage to 11 points, at 37-26. Liberty then reeled off nine straight points, pulling to within 37-35 on a second-chance hoop by Jasmine Gardner with 11:25 to play.
The Lady Flames were still down by two (39-37), before a 9-2 North Carolina A&T run. Adriana Nazario's fast break layup off of a nifty pass by Calvin put the blue-clad Aggies on top, 48-39, at the 8:14 mark.
Sadalia Ellis' steal and fast break layup cut the gap to 48-44 at 7:32, but North Carolina's JaQuayla Berry answered quickly with a three-pointer and layup. As a result, the Aggies still led, 53-44, with 6:28 to play.
Frazier's layup in traffic with 2:41 remaining capped off an 8-0 Lady Flames run, cutting Liberty's deficit to one at 53-52.
A Nazario three-pointer on the Aggies' next possession helped to halt Liberty's momentum and rebuilt the North Carolina A&T edge to four points (56-52).
The Aggies owned the same four-point margin (58-54) entering the final minute. Brown halved the deficit with a pair of free throws at the 18-second mark.
However, Calvin was able to seal the game for North Carolina A&T, hitting two free throws of her own with just 2.8 seconds left to create the final score of 60-56.
The Aggies finished the game at 44.9 percent (22-of-49) field goal shooting, as compared with 32.3 percent (20-of-62) for the Lady Flames. Liberty only made one of its 12 three-point tries for 8.3 percent but kept itself in the game with a stellar 88.2 percent (15-of-17) mark from the foul line.
Liberty pulled down 23 offensive rebounds on the afternoon, contributing to its 45-29 rebounding edge. However, the Aggies got 24 bench points and forced 22 turnovers by the Lady Flames.
Frazier's nine assists were the most by a Lady Flame since Amber Mays totaled 10 helpers against Winthrop on Jan. 9, 2010.
Brown shot only 3-of-16 from the field but made all six of her free throws, enabling her to lead the team with 13 points. She also equaled her career high with five steals.
Tolu Omotola scored in double figures for the third straight game for the Lady Flames, finishing with 10 points and six rebounds. Fellow post player Gardner added seven points and a game-high 11 boards.
For North Carolina A&T, Calvin was one of four players who reached double figures in the scoring column. She was joined by Berry (11 points), Nazario (10) and Gorham (10). Reserves Berry and Nazario combined to score 19 of the Aggies' 27 points after halftime.
Liberty will wrap up its season-long four-game homestand Monday at noon, with a matinee versus Virginia Union (3-4). The game will be part of Best Field Trip Ever Day, with more than 2,000 elementary and middle school students scheduled to attend the contest.
North Carolina A&T will return home for its next two games, beginning with a matchup against Charlotte, Tuesday at 6 p.m.