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Navy Edges Liberty, 67-66

December 4, 2016  Annapolis, Md.  RSS
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Keyen Green made the Navy Classic All-Tournament Team after recording her first career double-double (16 points, 17 rebounds) against Navy on Sunday.

Keyen Green made the Navy Classic All-Tournament Team after recording her first career double-double (16 points, 17 rebounds) against Navy on Sunday.

Similar to Saturday's matchup with Richmond, Liberty made a big comeback in Sunday's Navy Classic finale at Alumni Hall, converting a 16-point second-half deficit into a five-point lead. However, host Navy bounced back to pull out a 67-66 victory, finishing as the two-day tournament's only 2-0 team.

After trailing 37-21 during the opening minute of the third quarter, Liberty (0-6) had recovered to take a 59-54 advantage on Kierra Johnson-Graham's triple with 6:03 to play in the fourth quarter.

The game's final five minutes saw two tie scores, and neither team led by more than three points during that time. Navy (6-3) took its final three-point advantage on Hannah Fenske's layup with 1:06 remaining.

A Nene Johnson layup and an ensuing Midshipmen turnover gave Liberty possession with 31.3 seconds remaining, trailing by a 67-66 count. However, the Lady Flames could not get a shot off before the shot clock buzzer sounded, and suffered their fourth straight single-digit defeat.

Liberty falls to 0-6 to start the season and has now lost eight games in a row, dating back to 2015-16. That marks the Lady Flames' longest losing skid since a nine-game streak spanning Jan. 9-Feb. 3, 1996.

The Lady Flames lost despite a 47-28 rebounding advantage and stellar second-half shooting. Liberty made 57.7 percent (15-of-26) of its field goal attempts, 60 percent (6-of-10) of its three-pointers and 90 percent (9-of-10) of its free throws during a 45-point second half.

Freshman Keyen Green made the all-tournament team, thanks in large part to her first career double-double (season-high 16 points, season-high 17 rebounds) on Sunday. Her 17 boards were the most by a Lady Flame since Ashley Rininger pulled down 17 rebounds at Winthrop on Jan. 20, 2015.

Other Lady Flame standouts against Navy included Kierra Johnson-Graham (10 points, 8 rebounds), Audrey Rettstatt (10 points, 4 rebounds) and Lela Sellers (7 points, 6 rebounds, season-high 6 assists, 2 steals).

Navy posted its fifth win in the last six games despite being held below its season averages for three-pointers made (7) and three-point field goal percentage. The Midshipmen, who boast only one 6-0 player on their roster, were able to get inside for 34 points in the paint, capped off by Fenske's timely hoop with 1:06 to play. Navy also turned Liberty's 18 turnovers into 16 points and committed only seven miscues of its own.

Taylor Dunham (game-high 20 points, 5 assists) and Justice Swett (13 points, team-high 9 rebounds, team-high 6 assists) represented the Midshipmen on the all-tournament team.

Navy opened the afternoon's scoring with back-to-back three-pointers from Dunham and Fenske. The Midshipmen then led for the entire first quarter, taking a 16-13 advantage through 10 minutes. Coming off a contest with 14 triples against Cleveland State on Saturday, Navy nailed three more trifectas in the opening quarter.

Liberty briefly took a 17-16 lead on a putback hoop by Green, 3:34 into the second quarter. However, Navy responded with a 15-0 surge as the Lady Flames were held scoreless for more than five minutes. Kaila Clark scored the final four points of the run, which put the Midshipmen on top, 31-17, at the 1:40 mark. Navy took the same 14-point margin (35-21) into halftime.

Liberty outrebounded its hosts by a 27-20 count before halftime but shot only 26.5 percent (9-of-34) from the field. Navy hit five triples in the opening half and scored 10 points off of Liberty's nine turnovers.

Green contributed six points and eight rebounds for the Lady Flames during the first half, while Dunham's eight points led all scorers.

Dunham opened the second-half scoring with a layup, bolstering Navy's lead to 16 before Green and Rettstatt sparked a 20-6 surge. Green scored 10 points and Rettstatt connected on two triples before Johnson-Graham's two free throws finished off the run with the Lady Flames trailing 43-41 at 2:13 of the third quarter.

Navy had built its cushion back to seven before Molly Reagan's first career three-point try found the bottom of the net as the third-quarter buzzer sounded. That made the score 50-46 in favor of the Midshipmen heading to the final 10 minutes.

Liberty carried its momentum over into the fourth quarter, scoring the period's first eight points for an 11-0 overall run. Consecutive triples by Iva Ilic and Sellers put Liberty in front, 54-50, with 7:57 showing on the clock.

The Lady Flames' lead eventually reached five before Navy pulled out a hard-fought victory by making six of its last seven field goal tries over the final 4:52 of play.

Liberty enjoyed its best shooting day of the young season, setting season highs for field goal percentage (40.0, 24-of-60), three-point field goal percentage (37.5, 6-of-16) and free throw percentage (80.0, 12-of-15).

Navy made 41.3 percent (26-of-63) from the field, including 61.5 percent (8-of-13) in the final quarter. The Midshipmen ended up at 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from the foul line on the day.

Liberty grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, giving the Lady Flames four straight 20-offensive rebound efforts. However, Liberty converted those boards into only 11 second-chance points.

Up Next
Liberty will now prepare for its lone December home game, Saturday at 11 a.m. versus West Liberty. The Lady Flames' first ever meeting with the Hilltoppers (1-7) will tip off a basketball doubleheader at the Vines Center. The Liberty men's basketball team will play host to Princeton at 2 p.m.

Navy Classic All-Tournament Team
Justice Swett, Navy
Taylor Dunham, Navy
Keyen Green, Liberty
Ashanti Abshaw, Cleveland State
Janelle Hubbard, Richmond