Ashtyn Baker contributed a career-high 20 points and five assists to Tuesday's 82-69 come-from-behind win over Denver.
Travel weary and trailing Denver by as many as 10 points during Tuesday's Roo Holiday Classic matchup, Liberty displayed impressive resolve. Paced by the duo of Ashtyn Baker (20 points) and Keyen Green (18 points, 10 rebounds), the Lady Flames roared back for an 82-69 victory at UMKC's Swinney Recreation Center.
Baker scored 12 of her career-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a shot clock buzzer-beating three-pointer with 4:27 left which put Liberty ahead for good. Green posted her first double-double of the year (season-high 18 points, season-high 10 rebounds), including 12 points and six boards after halftime.
Liberty evened its record at 5-5 with its first win away from the Vines Center since the Nov. 10 season opener at Old Dominion. The Lady Flames dominated the paint to the tune of a 43-32 rebounding advantage and a 44-12 cushion in points in the paint, aided by KK Barbour (11 points) and Ola Makurat (10 points, seven rebounds).
Denver fell to 7-6 despite a career-high 21 points from Claire Gritt and 13 boards by Jordyn Alt. The Pioneers connected on 11 three-pointers but were held to 1-of-5 from long distance during the decisive fourth quarter, when they were outscored by the Lady Flames, 29-13.
Denver hit a pair of three-pointers during the game's opening minute before misfiring on 12 of its next 13 field goal attempts. Liberty outscored the Pioneers, 10-3, during that stretch to build a five-point lead (14-9) before Denver's Lauren Loven beat the first-quarter buzzer with a triple.
Loven's shot ignited an 11-0 run by the Pioneers, which culminated with Grace White's high-arcing three-pointer from the top of the key. Her trifecta extended the Denver lead to 20-14 at 8:49 of the second quarter.
After its slow start, Denver scorched the nets during the second 10 minutes, scoring 25 points on 53.8 percent (7-of-13) shooting, including 50 percent (4-of-8) from three-point range. The Pioneers led by as many as 10 (34-24) before taking a 37-28 lead into halftime.
Liberty scored 18 points in the paint in the first half, but shot just 35.5 percent (11-of-31) overall. Denver was not much better from the field (37.9 percent, 11-of-29), but connected on seven first-half triples. Samantha Romanowski hit two of them, leading all scorers with 10 points before the break.
The Lady Flames used the three-point shot to chip away at the deficit in the third quarter, making four trifectas in the period. But Gritt helped Denver keep Liberty at arm's length with nine third-quarter points, helping the Pioneers take a 56-53 edge into the fourth.
Lela Sellers' putback at 6:57 tied the score at 59-59 and then the Lady Flames finally took their first lead since the opening quarter after back-to-back Baker three-pointers. Her second triple, coming from well beyond the arc as the shot clock expired, put Liberty in front for good at 67-64 with 4:27 to play.
Romanowski pulled Denver to within 67-66 by making two free throws on her team's next possession. But Barbour hit a layup and three-pointer within a 40-second span to keep Liberty in front.
After Gritt's layup at 3:02 made it Liberty 72, Denver 69, the Lady Flames reeled off 10 straight points to end the game, wrapping up a 13-point win and a 54-point second half.
Beginning with Baker's pair of three-pointers, Liberty scored on nine of its last 10 possessions. During their 29-point fourth quarter, the Lady Flames shot 73.3 percent (11-of-15) from the floor, 60 percent (3-of-5) from three-point range and 100 percent (4-of-4) from the foul line.
Liberty, which has now won four of its last five games following a 1-4 start, finished at 48.5 percent (32-of-66) from the field and 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from three-point range. In the second half, those numbers were 60 percent (21-of-35) from the floor and 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from three-point distance.
After failing to reach the 70-point mark in any of this season's first eight games, the Lady Flames are now averaging 93.5 ppg in their last two outings.
Denver countered at 36.2 percent (21-of-58) for the game, including 40.7 percent (11-of-27) from beyond the arc.
The Lady Flames pulled down 16 offensive rebounds, including six by Green, leading to 19 second-chance points.
Liberty finished with 11 turnovers, including only two in the second half.
Baker nearly doubled her previous career high of 11 points and also dished out a game-high five assists on the day.
Green's double-double was the 10th of her career.
Barbour scored 10 of her 11 points after halftime and has now reached double figures in five of this season's first 10 games.
Romanowski (12 points) and Briana Johnson (10 points) also scored in double digits for the Pioneers, who have already exceeded last season's win total (6).
Liberty fell victim to the power outage at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Sunday and did not arrive in Kansas City until late Monday evening, approximately 36 hours after leaving campus.
Up Next Liberty will wrap up its stay in Kansas City on Wednesday, facing Northern Colorado (7-3) at 2 p.m. Eastern. The Bears defeated Roo Holiday Classic host UMKC, 88-73, in Tuesday's tournament opener and have wins over DePaul and LSU to their credit this season.
The Liberty-Northern Colorado victor will end up as the tournament's only 2-0 team.
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