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Lady Flames' Comeback Falls Short Versus Richmond

December 3, 2016  Annapolis, Md.  RSS
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Iva Ilic scored a season-high 14 points in Liberty's 63-54 loss to Richmond on Saturday.

Iva Ilic scored a season-high 14 points in Liberty's 63-54 loss to Richmond on Saturday.

Liberty's furious comeback cut a 19-point deficit to two during Saturday evening's opening game of the Navy Classic. However, Richmond held on for a 63-54 victory inside Alumni Hall.

The Lady Flames used a 19-2 run spanning both halves to trim a 34-15 deficit to 36-34. Liberty was never able to claim the lead, though, and falls to 0-5 to start the season for the first time since 1993-94.

The Lady Flames did some things well, highlighted by a season-best +21 (52-31) rebounding advantage. Liberty also got season-highs from Iva Ilic in both points (14) and three-pointers (3), as well as a season-high 11 boards by fellow freshman Ola Makurat.

In the end, turnovers proved to be Liberty's undoing. Richmond converted the Lady Flames' 20 miscues into 28 points, helping the Spiders improve to 4-3 with their fourth straight victory. Richmond is now 21-4 in its 25 all-time meetings with the Lady Flames.

Richmond was paced by three double-digit scorers, including Janelle Hubbard (15 points), Ragan Wiseman (career-high 15 points) and Lauren Tolson (11 points, three triples).

Liberty got off to a slow start offensively, making only one of its first nine field goal attempts. Richmond took advantage, opening up a 24-9 lead through the first 10 minutes. Wiseman came off the bench for eight first-quarter points to pace the Spiders' attack.

The Spiders built their advantage to 19 points (34-15) when Micaela Parson hit a driving layup 3:16 before halftime. Liberty then scored 10 unanswered points, including two three-pointers by Ilic. The freshman's second triple cut the Lady Flames' deficit to 34-25 at the 45-second mark. Richmond's Hubbard answered with a perimeter jumper, sending her team to halftime with a 36-25 lead.

Hubbard paced all first-half scorers with 10 points. She made all four of her field goal attempts, helping the Spiders shoot 44.8 percent (13-of-29) in the opening half.

Liberty's 50 percent (7-of-14) effort in the second quarter lifted the Lady Flames' first-half field goal percentage to 36.7 (11-of-30). Nineteen of Liberty's 25 points during the first 20 minutes were scored by reserves, including Ilic's team-high nine markers.

The Lady Flames raced out of the locker room with the first nine points of the second half, extending their overall run to 19-2. Nene Johnson scored six of those tallies, including back-to-back layups which pulled Liberty within 36-34 at the 7:24 mark of the third quarter.

Richmond answered with an 18-4 surge, sparked by eight straight Tolson points. A three-point play by Wiseman gave the Spiders a 54-38 edge with 1:42 to play in the third quarter. Richmond then took a 56-42 lead into the final 10 minutes of play.

Liberty began the fourth quarter with a 5-0 spurt, trimming the gap to 56-47 with 6:32 to play, when Ilic's third triple of the night swished through the net. Richmond halted the Lady Flames' momentum with layups from Jaide Hinds-Clarke and Wiseman. The Lady Flames could get no closer than nine points down the rest of the way and suffered their third consecutive single-digit setback.

Liberty has now dropped seven straight decisions overall, dating back to last season, marking the Lady Flames' longest losing streak since a seven-game losing skid spanning Dec. 5-29, 2000.

For the game, Richmond shot 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the field, enjoying a slight edge over Liberty's 36.7 percent (22-of-60) clip. Both teams made 60 percent of their free throws, but Richmond got to the stripe twice as often, going 12-of-20 to Liberty's 6-of-10.

The Lady Flames' advantage on the boards featured 21 offensive caroms and a 31-14 edge after halftime. Freshmen Keyen Green (nine rebounds) and Lela Sellers (seven rebounds) both established season highs in the category, with Sellers adding a season-best nine points.

Up Next
Liberty will face host Navy on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. in the finale of the Navy Classic. The game will mark the first meeting between the Lady Flames and Midshipmen since Nov. 21, 2009. That day, Liberty posted a 55-43 victory in the championship game of the 2009 Navy Classic.