It may sound like a broken record, but stifling defense and strong rebounding led Liberty to its sixth consecutive victory, Tuesday evening at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames topped Gardner-Webb, 59-41, limiting the Runnin' Bulldogs to their lowest scoring output in conference play and outrebounding the visitors, 46-25.
One day after winning her first Big South Player of the Week award, Lady Flames sophomore Keyen Green led all players in both points (17) and rebounds (10) for her fourth double-double of the season and the 13th of her career.
Liberty (15-8, 10-1 Big South) now owns a two-game lead atop the Big South standings after extending several streaks. The Lady Flames are 9-0 at home this season after defeating the Runnin' Bulldogs at the Vines Center for the seventh straight time. Liberty, which also got 10 points and seven rebounds from Ola Makurat, has now recorded 10+ Big South victories for 19 consecutive seasons.
Ky'Asia Stanford scored 12 of her team-high 16 points after halftime for Gardner-Webb, but the Runnin' Bulldogs slip to 14-9 overall and 4-7 in Big South action. Gardner-Webb, which has lost three games in a row, made only 32 percent (16-of-50) of its field goals, 23.1 percent (3-of-13) of its three-pointers and 40 percent (6-of-15) of its free throws.
Green tallied six points and three rebounds during the contest's first 6:03, staking Liberty to an early 10-4 advantage. The Lady Flames maintained the upper hand throughout the quarter despite shooting 3-of-13 and committing five turnovers.
Liberty got to the foul line as often in the first quarter (11 times) as it had during the previous two games combined, sinking seven of the attempts on its way to a 15-9 lead through 10 minutes of play.
The Lady Flames went on a 13-2 run, spanning the first and second quarters. Green tallied the final seven points of the surge, including a free throw at 5:42 of the second period which boosted the Liberty lead to 24-11.
Three-pointers by Alexus Hill and Taylor Kelley pulled the Runnin' Bulldogs within nine (26-17). But the Lady Flames extended their advantage back to 31-18 by the intermission.
Green's 13-point, six-rebound first half helped Liberty dominate its guests in rebounding (28-14) and second-chance points (14-2) during the opening half.
Gardner-Webb struggled shooting the ball from the field (25 percent, 6-of-24), three-point range (20 percent, 2-of-10) and the foul line (33.3 percent, 4-of-12) during the first 20 minutes.
Two Ashtyn Baker layups and a pair of Lela Sellers triples during the first 5:06 of the second half helped bolster Liberty's cushion to 18 (43-25). The Lady Flames' lead eventually reached 20 points (49-29) on a Makurat three-pointer. Liberty took a 49-31 advantage into the fourth period following a 58.3 percent (7-of-12) shooting performance during the third.
Gardner-Webb got no closer than 14 points down in the final stanza, as Makurat's six points and four rebounds helped Liberty close out its first regular-season sweep of the Runnin' Bulldogs since 2014-15.
Liberty, which shot 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field, scored 22 second-chance points off of 17 offensive boards.
Eleven different players found the scoring column for the Lady Flames, who enjoyed a 24-3 advantage in bench points.
Green has now scored in double figures during all six games of Liberty's current winning streak.
Makurat, who posted a career-high 20 points in the Lady Flames' 85-60 win at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 13, is averaging 13.0 ppg during four career matchups with the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Sellers finished with eight points, including two of Liberty's six three-pointers on the night. The sophomore also matched her career high with four steals.
Hill, one of two Gardner-Webb players who played 40 minutes on a night when her team only dressed nine, tossed in 13 points. However, GWU leading scorer Tierra Huntsman, battling a wrist injury, was held scoreless in 24 minutes off the bench.
Up Next Liberty will play four of its next five games away from the Vines Center, beginning with a Saturday matinee at Campbell (12-10, 5-6 Big South). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at Gore Arena as the Lady Flames seek a season sweep of the Camels.
Paced by Keyen Green's career-high 30 points, Liberty defeated Campbell, 60-42, Jan. 20 at the Vines Center.